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Cornell University Library 
PQ 2521.T3 1887 

Therese Raauin , 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

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the United States on the use of the text. 






p. 8i. 






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I had imagined in my simplicity that this novel might do 
without a preface. Being in the habit of saying aloud 
exactly what I think, of laying stress even upon the slightest 
details of -what I write, I had hoped to have been understood 
and judged without any preliminary explanation. It appears 
that I was mistaken. 

Criticism has received this book with a brutal and indig- 
nant outcry. Certain virtuous individuals, in newspapers 
equally virtuous, have made a grimace of disgust as they 
took it up with the tongs to pitch it into the fire. The 
little literary sheets themselves, those little sheets which 
chronicle every evening the news of alcoves and private 
supper-rooms at restaurants, have put their handkerchiefs to 
their noses and talked of filth and foul smells. I in nowise 
complain of this reception ; on the contrary, I am charmed 
to observe that my brother journalists possess the sensitive 
nerves of young girls. It is quite evident that my work 
belongs to my judges, and that they may consider it a 
nauseous production without my having a right to protest. 
What I do complain of is that not one of the chaste journal- 
ists, who blushed on reading " Therese Eaquin," appears to 
me to have understood this novel. If they had understood 


it, perhaps they would have blushed still more, but I should 
at least at this moment have had the inmost satisfaction of 
seeing them disgusted with good cause. Nothing is more 
irritating than to hear worthy writers complaining of de- 
pravity, when one is intimately persuaded that they cry out 
without knowing their reason for doing so. 

It becomes necessary, therefore, that I should myself in- 
troduce my work to my judges. I will do so in a few lines, 
solely with a view of avoiding all misunderstanding in the 

In "Therese Eaquin," I have sought to study tempera- 
ments and not characters. In that lies the entire book. I 
have selected personages sovereignly dominated by their 
nerves and their blood, destitute of free will, led at each act 
of their life by the fatalities of their flesh. Therese and 
Laurent are human brutes, nothing more. I have sought 
to follow, step by step, throughout the career of these brutes, 
the secret working of their passions, the promptings of their 
instinct, the cerebral disorders following a nervous crisis. 
The amours of my hero and heroine are the satisfying of a 
necessity; the murder they commit is a consequence of 
their adultery, a consequence which they accept like wolves 
accept the slaughtering of sheep ; finally, that which I have 
been obliged to term their remorse, consists in a simple 
organic disorder, in the rebellion of a nervous system strung 
to the point of breaking. The soul is entirely wanting ; I 
admit this the more readily as I wished it to be so. 

The reader begins, I hope, to understand that my aim has 
been, before all other, a scientific one. When my two per- 
sonages, Therese and Laurent, were created, I took pleasure 


in stating certain problems to myself and in solving them ; 
thus, I tried to explain the strange union which may be 
produced between two different temperaments; I showed 
the profound agitation of a sanguineous nature coming into 
contact with a nervous one. When one reads the novel 
carefully, one will observe that each chapter is the study of 
a curious case of physiology. In a word, I had but one 
desire : given a powerful man and an unsated woman, seek 
the animal within them, even see nothing but the animal, 
cast them into a violent drama, and scrupulously note the 
acts and sensations of these beings. I have simply under- 
taken on two living bodies the analytical work which 
surgeons perform on corpses. 

Admit that it is hard, when one emerges from such- a task, 
still enwrapt in the grave enjoyments of the search for truth, 
to hear people accuse you of having had for your sole object 
the painting of obscene pictures. I find myself in the same 
position as those painters who copy the nude, without the 
least desire being kindled within them, and who are pro- 
foundly surprised when a critic declares himself scandalised 
by the life-like flesh of their work. While engaged in writing 
" Therese Raquin," I forgot the world, I became lost in the 
minute and exact copy of life, giving myself up entirely to 
the analysis of the human mechanism ; and I can assure you 
that the cruel amours of The'rese and Laurent had in them 
nothing immoral to my mind, nothing which could dispose one 
to evil passions. The humanity of the models disappeared 
the same as it vanishes in the eyes of the artist who has a 
naked woman sprawling before him, and who is solely think- 
ing of representing this woman on his canvas in all the 

viii PREFACE. 

truthfulness of form and colour. Therefore my surprise was 
great when I heard my work compared to a pool of blood 
and mire, to a sewer, to a mass of filth, and I know not what 
else. I know, the pretty game of criticising ; I. have played 
at it myself ; but I admit that the uniformity of the attack 
rather disconcerted me. What ! there was not one of my 
brother writers who would explain the book, if not defend it ! 
Among the concert of voices exclaiming, "The author of 
'The"rese Raquin' is a wretched, hysterical being who de- 
lights in displaying obscenities," I have vainly awaited a 
voice that replied, " Not at all ! this writer is a mere analyst, 
who may have forgotten himself amidst human putrefaction, 
but who has forgotten himself there like the doctor forgets 
himself in the dissecting-room.'' 

Observe that I in no way ask for the sympathy of the 
press for a work which, as it says, is repugnant to its delicate 
senses. I am not so ambitious. I am merely astonished 
that my brother writers should have made me out a kind of 
literary scavenger — they, whose experienced eyes should 
discover in ten pages a novelist's intentions ; and I am con- 
tent to humbly implore them to be good enough in future 
to see me as I am and to discuss me for what I am. 

It was easy, though, to understand " Therese Raquin," to 
place one's self on the field of observation and analysis, to 
show me my real faults, without going and picking up a 
handful of mud and throwing it in my face in the name of 
morality. This required only a little intelligence and a few 
methodical ideas in real criticism. The reproach of immoral- 
ity, in scientific matters, proves absolutely nothing. I do not 
know whether my novel is immoral ; I admit that I never 


troubled myself to make it more or less chaste. What I do 
know is that I never for a moment thought of introducing 
into it the filth that these moral persons have discovered ; 
that I wrote each scene, even the most passionate, with the 
sole curiosity of the man of science ; that I defy my judges 
to find in it a single page really licentious, written for the 
readers of those little pink books, of those indiscreet chron- 
icles of the boudoir and the stage, which are printed ten 
thousand copies at a time, and warmly recommended by the 
very newspapers which are so disgusted by the truths in 
" ThfSrese Raquin." 

A few insults, a large amount of stupidity, is therefore all 
I have read up to the present respecting my work. I say 
so here quietly, the same as I would say it to a friend who 
should ask me privately what I think of the attitude which 
criticism has taken up towards me. A writer of great talent, 
to whom I complained of the little sympathy I have met 
with, made me this profound answer : " You have an im- 
mense fault which will close all doors against you : you 
cannot converse for two minutes with a fool without showing 
him that' he is one." It must be so ; I can feel the harm 
I do myself as regards criticism by accusing it of a want of 
intelligence, and yet I cannot help showing the contempt I 
feel for its limited horizon and the judgments it delivers with 
its eyes shut, without the least attempt at method. I speak, 
be it understood, of current criticism, of that which judges 
with all the literary prejudices of fools, unable to place itself 
on the broad, human standpoint required to understand a 
human work. Never before have I met with such blunder- 
ing. The few blows that the minor critics have dealt me 


with respect to " Thdrese Eaquin " have landed, as usual, 
into space. They hit, essentially, in the wrong place, ap- 
plauding the capers of a powdered actress, and then com- 
plaining of immorality with reference to a physiological 
study, understanding nothing, unwilling to understand 
anything, striking always straight before them, if their 
panic-stricken foolishness bids them strike. It is exasperat- 
ing to be beaten for a fault one has not committed. At 
times, I regret not having written something obscene; it 
seems to me that I should delight in receiving a merited 
castigation, in the midst of this shower of blows falling so 
stupidly on my head, like a cartload of bricks, without my 
knowing why. 

In our time there are scarcely more than two or three 
men capable of reading, understanding, and judging a book. 
From these I will consent to receive lessons, persuaded as I 
am that they will not speak without having penetrated 
my intentions and appreciated the result of my efforts. 
They would think twice before uttering those grand empty 
words, morality and literary modesty ; they would allow 
me the right, in these days of liberty in art, of choosing my 
subjects wherever I thought best, requiring of me no more 
than conscientious work, aware that folly alone is prejudicial 
to the dignity of letters. One thing is certain, the scientific 
analysis which I have attempted to perform in "Therese 
Eaquin " would not surprise them ; they would see in it the 
modern method, the instrument of universal inquiry of which 
the century makes such feverish use to penetrate the future. 
Whatever their conclusion might be, they would admit my 
point of departure, the study of temperament and of the 


profound modifications of organism under the pressure of 
circumstances and situations. I should find myself in the 
presence of real judges, of men honestly seeking for truth, 
without puerility or false shame, and not thinking it neces- 
sary to show disgust at the sight of bare and living ana- 
tomical forms. Sincere study, like fire, purifies everything. 
No doubt to the tribunal I am pleased to picture at this mo- 
ment my work would appear very humble ; I would that it 
met with full severity from its critics, I would like to see it 
emerge black with corrections. But I should at least have 
the great joy of seeing myself criticised for that which I 
have attempted to do, and not for that which I have not 

I can fancy I hear, even now, the sentence of high crit- 
icism, of that methodical and naturalistic criticism which 
has imbued science, history, and literature with new life : 
" ' Th^rese Raqum, ' is the study of too exceptional a case ; 
the drama of modern life is more supple, less wrapt up in 
horror and madness. Such cases should only occupy a 
secondary position in a work. The desire to lose no portion 
of his observations has led the author to give prominence to 
every detail, and this has added still more tension and harsh- 
ness to the whole. On the other hand, the " style does not 
possess the simplicity requisite in an analytical novel. It 
would be necessary, in short, that the writer, to enable him 
to construct a good novel, should see society with a wider 
glance, should paint it under its numerous and varied as- 
pects, and should above all employ a plain and natural 

I had wished to reply in twenty lines to attacks rendered 


irritating by their ingenuous bad faith, and I perceive that I 
am chatting with myself, as always happens whenever I keep 
a pen too long in my hand. I therefore stop, knowing that 
readers do not care for that kind of thing. Had I had the will 
and the leisure to write a manifesto, perhaps I might have 
attempted to defend what a journalist, speaking of " Therese 
Raquin," has termed, " putrid literature." But where's the 
use 1 The group of naturalistic writers to which I have the 
honour to belong possesses sufficient courage and activity to 
produce strong works, carrying their own defence within 
them. It requires all the blind obstinacy of a certain class 
of critics to force a novelist to write a preface. As, for the 
sake of light, I have committed the fault of writing one, I 
crave the pardon of those intelligent persons who have no 
need to have a lamp lighted at mid-day to enable them to 
see clearly, 




At the end of the Rue Guenegaud, near the quays, is the 
Passage du Pont-Neuf, a kind of corridor, narrow and 
gloomy, joining the Rue Mazarine to the Rue de Seine. 
This Passage is at most thirty paces long, and a couple of 
paces wide ; it is paved with yellowish flagstones, worn, 
loose, ever exhaling a rank moisture ; the glass roof covering 
it, and sloping at right angles, is grimy with dirt. 

On the lovely summer days, when a hot sun scorches the 
streets, a sickly light penetrates the dirty glass, and hangs 
miserably about the Passage. On the dull winter days, on 
the foggy mornings, the glass reflects only a lurid and ob- 
scure light on to the reeking flagstones. 

On the left are some low, dark shops, huddled together, 
emitting puffs of cold cavernous air. There are old book- 
stalls, toy shops, cardboard box stores, their contents grey 
with dust reposing vaguely in shadow ; the small squares of 
glass of which the shop fronts are composed, cast greenish 
reflections on the articles inside. Beyond, (the obscure 
depths, in the rear of the goods displayed, seem like so 
many gloomy caverns wherein strange fantastic forms move 

On the right, along the entire length of the Passage, ex- 


tends a Wall, against which the shopkeepers opposite have 
fixed narrow cupboards : nameless trifles, goods forgotten 
there for the last twenty years are displayed on the con- 
tracted shelves, which are painted a horrible brown colour. 
A dealer in sham jewellery has established herself in one of 
these little cupboards ; she sells, for fifteen sous each, rings 
which repose delicately on a bed of blue velvet at the 
bottom of a mahogany box. 

Above the glass roof the wall towers black, rough-cast, as 
if affected with leprosy, and covered with scars. 

This Passage du Pont-Neuf is not a place of promenade ; 
one uses it to make a short cut, to save a few minutes. It is 
traversed by busy people, whose sole object is to go straight 
and quickly to their destination. One meets there appren- 
tices in their working aprons, seamstresses taking home 
their work, men and women with parcels under their arms ; 
also old men hobbling along in the dim twilight which 
struggles through the glass roof, and bands of children dis- 
missed from school, who come there to enjoy the noise they 
make with their wooden shoes, while hopping over the 
stones. All day long there is a sharp, quick sound of foot- 
steps hurrying along with irritating irregularity ; no one 
speaks, no one loiters ; each one hastens on to his business, 
his head bowed, walking rapidly without so much as a glance 
at the shops. The shopkeepers gaze anxiously at those 
passers-by who, for a wonder, stop for a moment opposite 
their wares. 

At night-time three gas-jets enclosed in heavy square 
lanterns light up the Passage. These lanterns, hanging from 
the glass roof on which they throw spots of lurid light, 
diffuse a faint glimmer around, which quivers and at times 
seems to disappear. The Passage assumes the aspect of a 
cut-throat alley ; huge shadows lengthen on the pavement, 
puffs of damp air come from the street j/you might imagine 


it to be a subterranean gallery dimly lighted by three 
funeral lamps .} The shop-keepers content themselves with 
the meagre rays which the gas-jets cast on to their windows. 
Inside their only light is a lamp with a shade placed on a 
corner of the counter, thus enabling the passers-by to dis- 
tinguish the depths of these caves where night reigns during 
the day-time. Among the dark line of shop fronts the 
windows of the dealer in card-board boxes are a blaze of light ; 
two lamps pierce the shadows with their yellow flames. On 
the opposite side a candle stuck inside a lamp-glass throws 
its feeble rays on to the box of sham jewellery. The owner 
dozes in her cupboard with her hands under her shawl. 

Some years ago opposite to this dealer's there stood a shop, 
from the dark green woodwork of which damp exuded at all 
the crevices. The word "Haberdashery" was painted in 
black letters on a long narrow signboard, and on one of the 
door panes a woman's name, " Th^rese Eaquin,'' was written 
in red letters. Right and left were deep show-cases lined 
with blue paper. 

In the day-time, the eye could only distinguish the dis- 
play of goods in a softened clare-obscure. 

On one side was a little linen drapery : goffered tulle 
caps at two and three francs each, muslin collars and cuffs ; 
then some knitted goods, stockings, socks, and braces. Each 
article, crumpled and discoloured, was miserably hung up to 
a wire hook. ^The window was thus filled with pale-coloured 
unsaleable goods which had a dismal aspect in the trans- 
parent obscurityj The new caps, more brightly white, made 
staring spots on the blue paper with which the woodwork 
was covered. And, strung all along a rod, the coloured 
socks were so many gloomy notes amidst the vague and 
pale effacement of the muslin. 

On the other side, in a narrower window, were rows of 
great balls of green wool, black buttons sewn on white cardSj 


boxes of all colours and sizes, hair-nets with steel beads 
spread out on rounds of bluish paper, bundles of knitting 
needles, patterns of wool-work, rolls of ribbon, a heap of" 
faded and spoiled articles, which had doubtless remained in 
the same spot undisturbed for five or six years. (Every tint 
had turned to a dirty grey in this corner rotting with dust 
and dampTJ 

Towards noon, in summer, when the sun scorched the 
streets and squares with his fiercest rays, there was visible, 
behind the caps in the other window, the pale, grave pro- 
file of a young woman. This profile stood out vaguely from 
the dark shadows which filled the shop. Beneath the sharp 
low forehead came a long, narrow, delicate nose ; the lips 
were two thin lines of pale pink, and the chin, short and 
nervous, joined the neck with a full, graceful curve. The 
body, lost in the shadows, was invisible ; the profile alone 
appeared, of a dull white, pierced by a large black eye, and 
as if weighed down by a mass of dark hair. It was there 
for hours together, peaceful and motionless, between two 
caps on which the damp rods had left lines of rust. 

In the evening, when the lamp was lighted, the interior 
of the shop became visible. It was more broad than deep ; 
at one end was a little counter ; at the other, a screw-shaped 
staircase led to the rooms on the first floor. Against the 
walls were ranged show-cases, cupboards, and rows of green 
card-board boxes; four chairs and a table completed the 
furniture. (The apartment looked bare and cold ; the wares 
packed up, huddled into corners, were not left lying about, 
brightening the scene with their gay riot of colours) 

Usually, two women presided behind the counter: the 
young woman with the _grave _profile, and an/old lady who 
dozed and smiled. The latter was about sixty; her fat, 
placid face] looked pale in the lamp-light. A huge tabby cat 
perched on a corner of the counter, watched her sleeping. 


Lower down, seated on a chair, a young man of about 

thirty read or talked in an undertone to the young woman. 

[He was small, puny, and feeble in appearance, with pale 

light hair, very little beard, and a face covered with freckles j 

he resembled a sickly, spoilt childJ 

A little before ten o'clock, the old lady would awake. 
The shop was then closed, and the whole family would 
retire upstairs to bed. The tabby cat followed purring, and 
rubbing his head against each bar of the banisters. 

Up above, the lodging was composed of three rooms. 
First came a dining-room, which also served as a reception 
room. To the left there was an earthenware stone placed 
in a recess ; opposite was a sideboard ; several chairs were 
ranged along the walls ; a rouni table occupied the centre of 
the apartment. Beyond came a dark kitchen, behind a glass 
door. On either side of the dining-room was a bedroom. 

The old lady, after kissing her son and daughter-in-law, 
went to her own chamber. The cat slept on a chair in the 
kitchen. The young couple retired into their room, which 
had a second door opening on a stair-case that led out to 
the Passage by a dark and narrow way. 

The husband, who was always shivering with fever, would 
get into bed; meanwhile, the young wife would ©pen the 
window to close the outer shutters. She would remain 
there some minutes, o pposite the great, bjack. rough p lastered 
wall, . which rises and extends above the gallery. She would 
cast a vague glance along this wall, and then, without a 
word, she too would get into bed, with disdainful in- 



Madame Raquin had formerly been a draper, at Vernon. 
For nearly five-and-twenty years, she had lived in a small 
shop in that town. Some years after the death of her 
husband, she felt a need for rest, and sold her business. 
Her savings, added to the proceeds of the sale, gave her a 
sum of forty thousand francs, which she invested, receiving 
for it <m income of two thousand francs per annum. This 
sum would amply, suffice her. She lived a secluded life, 
sheltered from the excitements and keen anxieties of the 
world; she looked forward to an existence of peace and 
tranquil enjoyment. 

She rented, for four hundred francs, a small house, with 
a garden sloping down to the Seine. It was a discreet and 
secluded dwelling, with a vague conventual odour ; a 
narrow pathway led to this retreat situated amidst large 
meadows ; the windows looked on the river and the 
deserted slopes of the opposite bank. The good woman 
who had passed her fiftieth year, shut herself up in this 
solitude, and tasted quiet happiness with her son Camille 
and her niece Therese. 

Camille was then twenty. His mother still spoilt him as 
though he were a little boy. She loved him the more that 
she had so many times snatched him from death during a 
long childhood of suffering. The boy had had, one after the 
other, every fever, every complaint imaginable. Madame 
Raquin fought for fifteen years against the terrible ailments 
whioh came in turn to try and rob her of her son. She 


conquered them all by her patience, her care, her de- 

Camillo, grown to years of manhood, saved from death, 
seemed ever shivering from the repeated shocks to his 
system. Stunted in his growth, he was undersized and 
weakly. His slender limbs moved slowly and with effort. 
His mother loved him the more for this weakness which 
bent his frame. She looked at his poor little pale face with 
triumphant tenderness, feeling that she had at least ten 
times restored him to life. 

During his rare intervals of health, the child had at- 
tended a commercial school in Vernon. There he learnt 
arithmetic and orthography. His knowledge did not extend 
beyond the four rules and a very superficial acquaintance 
with grammar. Later he took lessons in writing and book- 
keeping. Madame Eaquin trembled when she was advised 
to send her son to college ; she knew he would die away 
from her, she said books would kill him. Camille re- 
mained ignorant and his ignorance seemed like an addi- 
tional weakness. 

At eighteen, unemployed, wearied to death with the 
coddling with which his mother enveloped him. he became a 
clerk in a linen merchant's warehouse. His salary was 
sixty. francs a month. He had a restless spirit which made 
an idle life unendurable to him. He felt more tranquil, his 
health improved in this brutish labour, this mechanical 
work which kept him all day bent over invoices and long 
columns of figures which he had to tot up one by one. In 
the evening, worn out, light headed, he quite revelled in 
the dull fatigue which overcame him. He had quite to 
quarrel with his mother before taking this berth ; she 
would have had him ever at her side between two blankets, 
far from the accidents of life. The young man assumed a 
masterful tone ; he demanded work as other children de-> 


mand toys, not from a feeling of duty, but from instinct, 
from a craving of nature. His mother's tender devotion 
had produced in him a fierce selfishness; he thought he 
loved those who pitied and caressed him ; but in reality, he 
lived apart, wrapt up in himself, only caring for his own 
comfort, trying in every possible way to increase his plea- 
sures. When surfeited with Madame Eaquin's tender affec- 
tion, he threw himself with rapture into a stupid employ- 
ment which saved him from doctor's draughts and diet 
drinks. Then, in the evening, on returning from his office, 
he strolled along the banks of the Seine with his cousin 

Th&ese was close upon eighteen. Sixteen years before, 
when Madame Eaquin was still in business, her brother, 
Captain Degans, brought her a little girl in his arms. He 
had just come from Algeria. 

" Here is a little one who claims you as aunt," said he, 
with a smile. " Her mother is dead, I do not know what to 
do with her. I give her to you." 

The draper took the child, smiled upon it, kissed its rosy 
cheeks. Degans remained a week at Vernon. His sister 
scarcely asked him any questions about the daughter he 
gave her. She merely knew that the dear little thing was 
born at Oran, and that her mother was a native of great 
beauty. The captain, an hour before his departure, handed 
her the certificate of birth in which Therese was recognised 
as his daughter, and bore his name. He went away, and 
never returned ; a few years later, he was killed in Africa. 

Therese grew up, sleeping in the same bed as Camille, 
sharing her aunt's warm caresses. She had an iron consti- 
tution, and she was nursed like a delicate child, taking the 
same medicines as her cousin, kept in the same close atmos- 
phere as the sickly boy. For hours, she stayed cowering 
before the fire, pensive, staring at the flames without 


blinking. This enforced invalid life caused her to retire 
within herself ; she contracted the habit of speaking in low 
tones, of walking about noiselessly, of remaining silent and 
motionless on a chair, her eyes wide open and gazing into 
vacancy. And when she raised an arm, or lifted a foot, she 
betrayed a feline suppleness, short and powerful muscles, a 
great energy, a strong passion lying dormant in her 
slumbering flesh. 

One day, her cousin had fallen down fainting ; she had 
raised him up and carried him with an abrupt gesture, 
and this display of strength had brought a red patch of 
colour on either cheek. The secluded life she led, the 
debilitating treatment to which she was subjected, could 
not weaken her spare and robust frame ; her complexion 
alone suffered, assuming pale yellow tints, and making her 
almost ugly, when in the shade. Sometimes she went to 
the window and gazed on the opposite houses, on which the 
sun was shedding its golden rays. 

When Madame Eaquin sold her business and retired to 
the little house on the banks of the river, Therese had 
secret transports of joy. Her aunt had so often repeated : 
" Be quiet, don't make a noise," that she had kept carefully 
concealed from others all the impetuosity of her nature. 
She possessed a supreme calm, an apparent tranquillity 
which disguised the most violent storms. She fancied 
herself to be ever in her cousin's room, near a dying child ; 
she acquired the quiet movements, the silence, the placidity, 
and the stammering utterance of an old woman. When she 
saw the garden, the white river, the vast green slopes which 
extended to the horizon, she had a wild longing to run and 
shout ; she felt her heart throbbing in her bosom ; but not 
a muscle of her face stirred, and a quiet smile alone replied 
to her aunt's inquiry as to whether she liked their new 

22 THfiRfiSE RAQtTIN. 

Life grew brighter for her. She retained her easy move- 
ments, her calm, indifferent expression, she still looked the 
child reared in a sick-bed ; but she lived internally a turbu- 
lent, passionate existence. When she was alone on the 
grass by the water's edge, she lay flat on her face like an 
animal, her black eyes dilated, her body crouching, ready 
to spring. And she remained thus for hours, thinking of 
nothing, scorched by the sun, happy to thrust her fingers 
into the ground. She had wild dreams ; she glanced 
defiance at the river as it flowed, she imagined the water 
was about to leap up and attack her ; then she pulled her- 
self together, put herself on the defensive, and angrily 
wondered how she could conquer the flood. 

In the evenings, Therese, quiet and silent, stitched by the 
side of her aunt ; her countenance seemed to slumber in the 
light which softly streamed from beneath the shade of the 
lamp. Camille, huddled up in an easy chair, pondered over 
his calculations. A solitary word uttered in low tones, alone 
broke, now and again, the silence of this sleepy interior. 

Madame Eaquin contemplated her children with placid 
affection. She had resolved that they should marry. She 
continued treating her son as a dying man ; she trembled 
when she thought of her own end, and of leaving him alone 
and suffering. Then she relied on Th&rese, considering that 
the young girl would be a watchful nurse for Camille. Her 
niece, with her quiet ways, her silent devotion, inspired her 
with boundless confidence. She had seen her at work, she 
would give her to her son as his guardian angel. This mar- 
riage was a settled plan. 

The children had long known they were to be married 
one day. They had grown up in this knowledge, which had 
thus become to them familiar and natural. This union was 
spoken of in the family as a necessity of fate. Madame 
Raquin had said : " We will wait until Therese is one-and- 


p. 23. 


twenty.'' And they waited patiently, without desire, with- 
out embarrassment. , 

Camille, whose blood was impoverished by his bad health, 
had never felt the eager desires of adolescence. He had 
remained a little boy with his cousin, he kissed her as he 
kissed his mother, from habit, without losing any of his sel- 
fish calm. He saw in her an agreeable companion, who helped 
to amuse him, and who, occasionally, made his diet drinks. 
When he played with her, or held her in his arms, he felt as 
if she were a boy ; his flesh received no exciting thrill. And 
never had it struck him, at such times, to kiss the warm 
lips of the young girl, who was struggling and. laughing 

Therese also seemed to remain cold and indifferent. She 
sometimes cast her large eyes on Camille, gazing fixedly at 
him for several minutes with a sovereign calm. Her lips alone 
had then little almost imperceptible movements. One could 
read nothing on that closed face, which was always held 
gently attentive by an implacable will. Whenever the mar- 
riage was discussed, Therese became grave, merely approving 
with an inclination of her head all that Madame Eaquin said. 
Camille went to sleep. 

In the summer'evenings, the young people wandered away 
to the water-side. Camille wearied of his mother's incessant 
cares; he grew rebellious, he wanted to run about, make 
himself ill, escape the coaxings which nauseated him. He 
would lead Therese away, and persuade her to wrestle and 
play on the grass. One day, he pushed his cousin and made 
her fall; the young girl regained her feet with a spring, 
and with savage fury, burning face, and flashing eyes, she 
threw herself upon him with" uplifted arms. Camille slipped 
down on the ground. He was filled with fear. 

Months, years passed by. The day fixed for the wedding 
arrived. Madame Raquin took Therese aside, spoke to her 


of her parents, related the history of her birth. The young 
girl listened to her aunt, and kissed her, without answering 
a word. At night, Therese, instead of going to her own 
bedroom, to the left of the staircase, entered her cousin's 
room, to the right. This was fhe only change in her life 
that day. Next morning, when the young couple came 
down, Camille had his usual sickly languor, his selfish, 
saintly quietude, and Therese still retained her gentle in- 
difference, her expressionless face so frightfully calm. 



A week after his marriage, Camille told his mother plainly 
that he intended leaving Vernon and residing in Paris. 
Madame Raquin objected ; she had settled down, she did 
not wish for any change in her mode of life. Her son had 
a sharp attack of " nerves," he threatened to have an illness, 
if she did not yield to his whim. 

" I have never thwarted your plans," he said. " I have 
married my cousin, I- have taken all the drugs yoii gave me. 
The least I may expect now is to be allowed a will of my 
own, and that you should be of my way of thinking. We 
will leave here at the end of the month." 

Madame Raquin passed a sleepless night. Camille's re- 
solve upset her life, and she tried desperately to remodel it- 
By degrees she became calm. She reflected that children 
might be added to the family and that her modest compet- 
ence would then be insufficient. More money must be made, 
business must be resumed, some lucrative trade found for 
Therese. By the morning, the notion of leaving Vernon had 
grown familiar to her. She had formed the plan of their new 

Breakfast found her quite cheerful. 

" This is what we will do," she said to her children. "1 
will go to-morrow to Paris ; I will look about for a modest 
haberdashery business, and Therese and I will again occupy 
ourselves in selling needles and thread. That will give us 
something to do. You, Camille, can act as you please; 
bask in the sun, or take a situation." 


" I shall take a situation," replied the young man. 

The truth was that a foolish ambition had alone caused 
Gamille's resolve. He longed to be employed in a large 
house of business ; he coloured with pleasure when contem- 
plating himself, in his dreams, in the midst of a huge office, 
with lute-string sleeves on his arms, and a pen behind his ear. 

Therese was not consulted ; she had always shown such 
passive obedience that her aunt and her husband no longer 
troubled themselves to ask her opinion. She went where 
they went, she did as they did, without a word, without a 
murmur, without even seeming aware of any change. 

Madame Eaquin came to Paris and went straight to the 
Passage du Pont-Neuf. An old maid at Vernon had directed 
her to one of her relatives, who had a haberdashery business 
in this Passage, which she wished to dispose of. The old 
lady found the shop rather small and rather dark ; but in 
making her way through Paris she had been bewildered with 
the noisy traffic of the streets and the display of luxury in 
the shops, and this narrow gallery, these modest windows, 
reminded her of her own old, quiet shop. She could almost 
imagine herself still in the country, she breathed again, she 
thought her dear children would be happy in this remote 
corner. The modest sum asked for the stock decided her j 
the price was two thousand francs. The rent of the shop 
and the first floor came to no more than twelve hundred 
irancs. Madame Raquin, who had saved some four thou- 
sand francs, calculated that she could purchase the stock, 
and pay the first year's rent without touching her capital. 
Camille'a salary and the takings from the shop would, she 
thought, suffice for current expenses, so that she need not 
be using her income, which would swell the capital for a 
provision for her grand-children. 

She returned radiant to Vernon, announcing that she had 
found a pearl, a delightful nook, in the heart of Paris. 


Gradually, after some days, in her evening chats, the damp, 
dark shop in the Passage grew into a palace ; she saw it in 
memory, commodious, large, quiet, possessed of a thousand 
inappreciable advantages. 

"Ah! my good Therese," she said, "you will see how 
happy we shall be in that nook! There are three fine 
rooms upstairs. The Passage is very lively. We will dress 
our windows charmingly. You will see how pleasant life 
will be ! " 

And her tongue kept wagging on. All her trading in- 
stincts were aroused ; she gave Therese lessons in advance 
on selling, buying, and the tricks of trade generally. So 
the family left the house by the Seine ; and on the evening 
of the same day they were installed in the Passage du 

When Therese stepped into the house which was to be in 
future her home, she felt as if descending into the fresh 
earth of a new grave. A feeling of nausea rose in her 
throat, she shivered with fear. She looked at the damp, 
dirty corridor, she visited the shop, went upstairs, and 
glanced into every apartment ; these bare, unfurnished rooms 
were frightful in their dismantled solitude. The young wife 
made no sign, said no word. She was as though petrified. 
Her aunt and her husband having come downstairs, she sat 
down on one of the trunks, her hands tightly compressed, 
her throat filled with sobs, unable to weep. 

Madame Raquin, in face of the reality, was embarrassed, 
ashamed of her dreams. She tried to defend her choice. 
She found a remedy for each freshly discovered inconveni- 
ence, explained the darkness by saying the weather was 
cloudy, and wound up by affirming that a good sweeping 
was all that was necessary. 

" Bah ! " replied Camille, " it will all do very well. Be- 
sides, we shall only want to be upstairs at night-time. I 


shall never be home before five or six o'clock. You two will 
be together and keep each other company." 

Never would the young man have consented to live in 
such a hole, had he not counted on the delights of his 
office. He told himself he would be comfortable all day at 
his place of business, and that in the evening he could go to 
bed early. 

For a whole week the house and shop were in confusion. 
From the first day, Therese sat herself behind the counter 
and she never stirred from that position. Madame Eaquin 
was surprised at this dejected attitude ; she had thought the 
young wife would have sought to adom her dwelling, put 
flowers in the windows, ask to have the rooms repapered, 
and to have fresh curtains and carpets. Whenever she her- 
self proposed any alteration or embellishment : 

" What is the use 1" her niece would quietly reply. " We 
shall do very well as we are, we need no luxuries ? " 

It was Madame Eaquin who had to arrange the rooms 
and put the shep in order. Therese grew impatient at last 
with her aunt's perpetual motion ; she hired a charwoman, 
and insisted on her aunt sitting down with her. 

Camille was a whole month without finding employment. 
He lived as little as possible in the shop, and dawdled about 
all day. He grew so bored that he spoke of returning to 
Vernon. Eventually, he obtained a clerkship in the Orleans 
Eailway Office. He drew a hundred francs a month. His 
dream was realised. 

He went out every morning at eight o'clock. He walked 
down the Eue Guenegaud to the quays. Then, at an easy 
pace, his hands in his pockets, he followed the Seine from 
the Institute to the Jardin des Plantes. This long walk, 
twice a day, never wearied him. He would watch the water 
flowing by, and stop to look at the loads of wood going 
down the river. He thought of nothing. He would often 


loiter in front of Notre-Dame, examining the scaffolding 
with which the cathedral was then surrounded for repairs. 
These huge pieces of timber amused him without his know- 
ing why. Then, he would cast a passing glance at the Port 
aux Vins, and count the cabs coming from the railway 
station. In the evening, scarcely knowing what he did, his 
head full of some silly story picked up at the office, he 
would cross the Jardin des Plantes, and, if he were not in a 
hurry, visit the bears. He would remain there for half-an- 
hour, leaning over the pit, watching the bears with their 
heavy movements ; the ways of these huge creatures pleased 
him ; he gazed at them with his eyes and mouth wide open, 
feeling an idiotic delight in beholding them move. At 
length he would make up his mind to go home, walking 
slowly, amusing himself with the passers-by, the vehicles, 
and the shops. 

Directly he arrived he would dine, and then begin read- 
ing. He had purchased Buffon's works, and, every evening, 
he gave himself a task of twenty or thirty pages, in spite of 
the weariness which this study caused him. He read also 
Thiers's " History of the Consulate and the Empire," and 
Lamartine's " History of the Girondins," or some book of 
popular science. He fancied he was completing his educa- 
tion. Sometimes he insisted on his wife listening to certain 
pages and anecdotes. He wondered immensely how Therese 
could remain all the evening pensive and silent, without 
being tempted to read a book. Privately, he came to the 
conclusion that his wife was by no means intellectual. 

Therese impatiently rejected books. She preferred to re- 
main idle, her eyes fixed on vacancy, her thoughts floating 
in dreams. Otherwise, she preserved an equable temper ; 
all her will was set on reducing herself to a passive instru- 
ment of supreme complacence and abnegation. 

The business jogged quietly along. The profits each 


month were regularly the same. The customers were 
mostly the work-girls of the neighbourhood. Every five 
minutes a young girl came in and bought a few sous' worth 
of goods. Therese served them always with the same words 
and stereotyped smile. Madame Kaquin was more active, 
more genial, and, truth to tell, it was she who attracted and 
retained the customers. 

For three years the days followed and resembled each 
other. Camille never once absented himself from his desk; 
his mother and his wife rarely left the shop. Therese, pass- 
ing her days in a damp shadow, in a dreary, crushing 
silence, saw her life spread out before her, bare and waste, 
bringing each night the same cold couch, and each morning 
the same empty monotonous day. 



Once a week, on Thursday evening, the Eaquins held a 
reception. A large lamp was lighted in the dining-room, 
and a kettle was put on the fire to boil water for tea. It 
was quite an event. This evening contrasted with the 
others. It seemed to this orderly family like an outburst of 
mad gaiety ; they kept it up until eleven o'clock. 

Madame Eaquin had found in Paris one of her old friends, 
the police commissary Michaud, who was stationed for 
twenty years at Vernon, and had there occupied part of the 
same house with herself. They had been intimate friends ; 
and when the widow had sold her stock, and moved to the 
little house by the riverside, they had gradually lost sight 
of each other. Michaud left the country some months later, 
and went to enjoy peacefully in Paris, in the Eue de Seine, 
his pension of fifteen hundred francs. One rainy day he 
met his old friend in the Passage du Pont-Neuf ; and that 
evening he dined with the Eaquins. 

This was the foundation of the Thursday receptions. 
The old police commissary was in the habit of coming 
punctually once a week. He brought, after a time, his son 
Olivier, a tall, thin, plain fellow of thirty, who had married 
a little, gentle, delicate wife. Olivier held a post worth 
three thousand francs at the Prefecture, and of this Camille 
was very envious. He was head clerk in the police office of 
order and safety. From the first visit, Therese detested this 
stiff, haughty man, who thought he was honouring the shop 


in the Passage with his lean, lanky presence and the delicate 
health of his poor little wife. 

Camille introduced another guest, an old employee of the 
Orleans railway named Grivet who had been serving there 
for twenty years, and was now head clerk, with two thousand 
one hundred francs salary. It was he who gave out the 
work to the employees in Camille's office, and the latter held 
him in considerable respect. In his dreams he told him- 
self Grivet would die one day, and at any rate he might 
hope to replace him in perhaps ten years. Grivet was 
delighted with his reception from Madame Eaquin, and he 
came every Thursday with perfect regularity. Six months 
later his weekly visit had become in his eyes a duty. He 
went to the Passage du Pont-Neuf as he went daily to his 
office, mechanically, by instinct, like an animal. 

Thenceforward these gatherings became very pleasant. 
At seven o'clock, Madame Eaquin lit the fire, placed the 
lamp in the centre of the table, brought out a box of 
dominoes, and dusted the tea-service which was on the side- 
board. At eight o'clock precisely, old Michaud and Grivet 
met outside the shop, coming one from the Eue de Seine, 
the other from the Eue Mazarine. They entered, and all 
the family went upstairs. They seated themselves round 
the table, waiting for Olivier Michaud and his wife, who 
were always late. When all had arrived, Madame Eaquin 
poured out tea. Camille emptied the box of dominoes on 
the American cloth, and each one became engrossed in the 
game. No noise but the click of the dominoes was to be 
heard. After each game the players quarrelled for two or 
three minntes, then silence fell again gloomily, broken only 
by sharp sounds. 

Therese played with an indifference which irritated Camille. 
She would take Francois, the large tabby cat whom Madame 
Eaquin had brought from Vernon, on her lap, and caress him 


with one hand, while she placed her dominoes with the other. 
The Thursday evenings were a torment to her. She often 
complained of some ailment in order to excuse herself from 
playing, so as to sit there listlessly, half asleep. With an 
elbow on the table, and her cheek resting on the palm of 
her hand, she would watch the guests of her aunt and her 
husband ; she saw them through a kind of yellow, smoky 
fog which came from the lamp. All those heads exasperated 
her. She looked from one to the other with profound dis- 
gust and sullen irritation. Old Michaud had a leaden-hued 
face, marked with red blotches — one of those dead-looking 
faces of old people who have reached second childhood ; 
Grivet had the narrow countenance, round eyes, and thin 
lips of an idiot ; Olivier, whose cheek-bones protruded, had 
a ridiculous body, surmounted by a stiff, insignificant head ; 
as for Suzanne, Olivier's wife, she was ghastly pale, with 
uncertain eyes, white lips, and indistinct features. 

And Therese did not find one man, one living creature 
among these weird, grotesque beings with whom she was 
shut up. Sometimes she imagined herself buried at the 
bottom of a vault, in company with mechanical corpses, who 
moved their heads and stirred their limbs in obedience to 
invisibly pulled strings. The heavy air of the dining-room 
stifled her ; the shivering silence, the yellowish rays of the 
lamp, penetrated her with a vague terror, an indescribable 

Downstairs at the shop door there was hung a bell, the 
sharp ring of which announced the entrance of a customer 
Therese would sit listening, and when the bell sounded, she 
hastily descended, happy, relieved at the excuse for quitting 
the company. She attended leisurely to the purchaser 
When the latter had departed, she remained sitting behind 
the counter as long as possible, dreading to go up again 
feeling a genuine comfort in no longer having Grivet and 


Olivier before her eyes. The damp atmosphere of the shop 
cooled the fever which burnt her hands. And she relapsed 
into the grave reverie that was now habitual with her. 

But she could not remain long away. Camille chafed at 
her absence ; he could not understand anyone preferring the 
shop to the dining-room on a Thursday evening. And he 
would lean over the banisters, looking for his wife. 

"Well!" he would cry, "what are you doing there? 
Why do you not come up ] Grivet has the devil's own luck. 
He has won again." 

The young wife would rise reluctantly and come up, re- 
suming her place opposite old Michaud, whose drooping lips 
broke into repulsive smiles. And, until eleven o'clock, she 
remained sunk into her chair, watching Francois, whom she 
held on her lap, to avoid seeing the puppets who were 
grimacing around her. 



One Thursday, on returning from his office, Camille brought 
with him a fine-looking, square shouldered man, whom he 
pushed inside the shop with a familiar gesture. 

" Mother,'' called he to Madame Eaquin, " do you recog- 
nize this gentleman ? " 

The old lady looked at the handsome fellow, tried to 
recall his features and failed. Tnerese placidly looked on. 

" What ! " said Camille, " don't you recognize Laurent, 
little Laurent, whose father has such fine corn fields near 
Jeufosse 1 Don't you remember ? We were school-fellows ; 
he used to fetch me in the morning coming from his uncle's, 
who was our neighbour, and you used to give him slices of 
bread and jam.' ; 

Madame Raquin suddenly recollected little Laurent, whom 
she found marvellously grown. It was quite twenty years 
since she had seen him. She sought to obliterate the effect 
of her cold reception of him by a flood of memories, and 
motherly attentions. Laurent had seated himself, he smiled 
quietly, replied in clear tones, and cast calm and easy 
glances around him. 

" Just fancy," said Camille, " this fellow has been em- 
ployed for the last eighteen months at the Orleans railway 
station, and we have never met until this evening. It is 
such a vast, such an important concern ! " 

The young man made this remark with wide open eyes 
and pursed lips, quite proud of being a humble wheel in the 
great machine. He went on, shaking his head the while : 


" Oh ! but he is getting on well, he is already earning a 
salary of fifteen hundred francs. His father sent him to 
college ; he has studied for the bar and learnt painting. 
You will dine with us, Laurent, won't you 1 " 

" With pleasure," replied Laurent frankly. 

He put down his hat and made himself at home in the 
shop. Madame Eaquin hurried off to her saucepans. 
Therese, who had not yet uttered a word, looked at the new- 
comer. He was so unlike any man she had seen before. 
Laurent, tall, powerful, fresh-coloured, astonished her. She 
examined with a kind of admiration his low forehead fringed 
with bushy black hair, his round cheeks, his bright red lips, 
his regular features, his sanguine beauty. For an instant 
she rested her eyes upon his neck ; this neck was short and 
thick, fat and powerful. Then she lost herself in contem- 
plation of his great hands spread out upon his knees ; the 
fingers were square shaped ; the closed fist would surely be 
enormous, and capable of felling an ox. Laurent was a 
true son of the soil, with a somewhat heavy gait, a round 
back, slow and precise movements, and a quiet obstinate 
manner. Beneath his clothing one could have felt round 
well-developed muscles, and a thick firm frame. And 
Therese examined him with curiosity, from his fiats to his 
face, feeling little thrills when her eye encountered his bull- 
like neck. 

Camille brought out his volumes of Buffon and his penny 
numbers, to show his friend that he also was studying. 
Then, as if replying to a question which he had been asking 
himself for some minutes : 

"But," said he to Laurent, "you must remember my 
wife? Don't you recollect the little cousin who used to 
play with us at Vernon ? " 

" I recognized madame at once," replied Laurent, looking 
Therese in the face. 


Under this steady gaze, which seemed to penetrate her, 
the young wife felt a kind of uneasiness. She put on a 
forced smile, and exchanged a few words with Laurent and 
her husband ; then she hurried off to her aunt. She was 

Dinner was served. Directly after the soup, Camille con- 
sidered it his duty to talk to his friend. 

" How is your father 1 " he asked him. 

" Well, I don't exactly know," replied Laurent. " We 
have quarrelled ; we have not written to each other for five 
years' past." 

" Is it possible 1 " cried Camille, astounded at such a 
monstrous state of things. 

"Yes, the good man has views of his own. As he is 
always going to law with his neighbours, he sent me to 
college, hoping later to find in me a lawyer who would gain 
every cause for him. Oh ! my father's ambition is all prac- 
tical ; he tries to make a profit even of his hobbies.'' 

"And you refused to become a lawyer?" said Camille, 
more and more astonished. 

" By Jove ! yes," replied his friend, laughing. " For two 
years I pretended to be reading up for it, in order to receive 
the twelve hundred francs my father allowed me. I lived 
with a college chum, who is an artist, and I dabbled in 
painting. This amused me ; it is a pleasant profession, not 
at all fatiguing. We smoked and fooled about all day." 

The Kaquin family opened their eyes wide. 

" Unluckily," continued Laurent, " this could not last for 
ever. My father found I was deceiving him, he stopped my 
allowance and advised me to come and dig with him. I 
then tried painting sacred subjects; poor business that. As 
I clearly saw I should soon be starving, I threw art to the 
devil and looked out for a berth. My father will die one of 
those days; then I shall be able to live without working." 


Laurent spoke in quiet tones. He had, in a few words, 
described himself fully in relating his characteristic history. 
He was thoroughly lazy at heart, with fleshly appetites, and 
a decided taste for easy and lasting enjoyments. This 
great, powerful frame desired, above all, to have nothing to 
do, to wallow from hour to hour in gluttony and idleness. 
He would have liked nothing better than to feed well, sleep 
well, and fully gratify his passions, without the trouble of 
putting out a hand, or undergoing the slightest fatigue. 

The profession of the law had alarmed him, and he 
shuddered at the notion of tilling the ground. He had 
thrown himself into art, hoping to find therein an idle mode 
of living ; the brush seemed to him a light instrument to 
handle ; besides, he thought success was easy. He dreamed 
of a life of cheap voluptuousness, a beautiful life full of 
women, of resting on divans, of feastings and drinking 
bouts. This dream lasted as long as his father sent sup- 
plies. But, as soon as the young man, now thirty years 
old, perceived poverty on the horizon, he began to reflect ; 
he felt himself a coward at the sight of privations ; he 
would not have fasted a whole day for the highest glories of 
art. As he told them, he had sent painting to the devil the 
day he had discovered that it would never enable him to 
gratify his large appetites. His first attempts had been 
beneath mediocrity ; his boorish eye gave its character to 
his portrayal of nature ; his colours dirty, his buildings 
tottering, his faces out of drawing, defied all criticism. Not 
feeling much vanity as an artist, he was not inordinately 
dejected when he found himself obliged to throw down his 
brushes. His only real regret was his college chum's 
studio, that vast apartment in which he had so voluptuously 
revelled for four or five years. He regretted, too, the 
women who came as models, and whose charms were not 
beyond his means. This world of sensual enjoyment left 


him with keen carnal longings. He was fairly comfortable, 
however, with his present clerkship ; he lived an easy 
animal life, he liked this daily routine, which did not tire 
him, and which left his mind inactive. Two things alone 
irritated him : he missed the women, and a dinner at an 
eighteen-sou restaurant did not satisfy the gluttonous 
appetite of his stomach. 

Camille listened and stared at him like an idiot. This 
sickly fellow, whose enfeebled and wearied body had never 
felt a fleshly desire, dreamed childish dreams of this studio 
life described by his friend. He thought of the women 
displaying their bare skin. He questioned Laurent. 

" So," said he, " there were really women who took their 
chemises off before you ? " 

" Certainly," replied Laurent, with a smile, and a look 
towards Therese, who had turned very pale. 

"That must have had a singular effect on you," resumed 
Camille, with a childish laugh. "I should have felt 
embarrassed. The first time, you must have been quite 

Laurent had spread out one of his large hands, the palm 
of which he was attentively examining. His fingers quivered 
slightly, and his cheeks flushed. 

" The very first time," continued he, as if talking to him- 
self, " I think I found it quite natural. This artist life is 
very amusing, but not remunerative. I had one model 
with an adorable warm complexion: firm flesh, dazzling 
skin, magnificent bosom, broad hips." 

Laurent looked up and saw Therese opposite him, silent 
and motionless. The young woman was watching him with 
a burning intensity. Her eyes, of a. dull black, seemed two 
fathomless depths, and her partly open lips discovered rosy 
lights within her mouth. She seemed dazed, overwhelmed ; 
she drank in every word. 


Laurent's glance went from Thgrese to Camille. The 
quondam artist restrained a smile. He finished his sentence 
with an expressive gesture, large and voluptuous, which the 
young wife followed with her eyes. They were at dessert, 
and Madame Raquin had gone downstairs to attend to a 

When the cloth was removed, Laurent, who had been 
silent for some minutes, addressed Camille abruptly : 

"I must paint your likeness," said he. 

This idea charmed Madame Raquin and her son. Therese 
remained silent. 

" We are now in summer," resumed Laurent, " and as we 
leave the office at four o'clock, I could come here and be 
painting two hours every evening. It will be finished in a 

" That's it," replied Camille, colouring with pleasure ; 
" you can dine with us. I'll have my hair curled, and wear 
my black frock-coat.'' 

The clock struck eight. Grivet and Michaud came in. 
Olivier and Suzanne followed. 

Camille introduced his friend to the company. Grivet 
drew himself up. He detested Laurent, whose salary had, 
in his opinion, been increased too rapidly. Besides, it was a 
serious matter introducing a new guest: the Raquins' 
friends could not receive a stranger with open arms. 

Laurent behaved like a jolly good fellow. He took in the 
situation, he wished to please, to make a good impression 
at once. He told some stories, enlivened the party 
with his hearty laugh, and even won over old Grivet him- 

Thdrese, on that evening, did not attempt to escape to the 
shop. She remained seated until eleven o'clock, playing 
and chatting, avoiding Laurent's eye, which, however, was 
not directed towards her. The sanguine temperament of 


this fellow, his full tones, his hearty laugh, the powerful and 
pungent odour which escaped from his person, disturbed 
the young wife, and threw her into a kind of nervous 



Laurent, from that day forward, came nearly every evening 
to the Raquins*. He lived in the Rue Saint- Victor, opposite 
the Port aux Vins, where he hired a little furnished room 
for eighteen francs a month ; this room, with a sloping roof 
and a skylight window opening like a snuff-box, was hardly 
six yards square. Laurent returned home as late as possible 
to this garret. Before he met Camille, as he had not money 
enough to frequent cafes, he spun out the time at the cheap 
restaurant where he dined, smoking pipes and sipping a cup 
of coffee with a dash of brandy in it, which cost three sous. 
He then strolled home to the Rue Saint- Victor, sauntering 
along the quays, sitting down on the benches on fine even- 

The shop in the Passage du Pont-Neuf became for him a 
charming retreat, warm, quiet, full of friendly words and 
ways. He saved the three sous for his coffee, and drank 
with relish Madame Raquin's excellent tea. Until ten 
o'clock, he stayed there, dozing, digesting, making himself at 
home, and never left before he had helped Camille to close 
the shop. 

One evening, he brought his easel and his box of colours. 
He was to begin Camille's portrait the following day. A 
canvas was bought, every preparation was made. At length 
the artist set to work in the bed-room of the young people ; 
he found there, he said, the most suitable light. 

He took three evenings to sketch the head. He touched 
the canvas timidly with the charcoal, in little uncertain 


touches ; his drawing, stiff and laboured, reminded one 
grotesquely of the early masters. He copied Camille's fea- 
tures as a student copies a lay figure, with a hesitating touch 
and an awkward exactness, which lent the face a scowling 
expression. On the fourth day, he stuck some atoms of 
colour on his palette and began painting with the tips af the 
brushes ; he dotted the canvas with little iirty spots, then 
he made short lines, close together, lika pencil shading. 

At the end of each sitting, Madame Raquin and Camille 
went into ecstacies. Laurent said they must be patient, thac 
the likeness would strike them later. 

From the time the portrait was commenced Therese uever 
quitted the impromptu studio. She left her aunt alone 
behind the counter ; on the slightest pretext she wenc unstairs 
and remained watching Laurent paint. 

Ever grave, oppressed, more than ever pale and silent, she 
sat and followed the progress of the brush. And yet this 
spectacle did not seem to afford her much amusement ; she 
came as if drawn by a power, she stayed as if held by a spell. 
Laurent turned round occasionally, and smiling asked if the 
portrait pleased her. She scarcely replied, shivered, and 
relapsed into her state of quiet rapture. 

Laurent meditated deeply on his way home at night to 
the Rue Saint- Victor ; he argued the point with himself 
whether he should or should not become Therese's lover. 

" There is a woman," he said to himself, " who will be my 
mistress if ever I choose her to be. She is always there, 
hanging about me, watching me, measuring me, weighing me. 
She trembles, she has a most strange face, mutely passionate. 
She most certainly wants a lover ; that is plainly read in her 
eyes. Camille is after all not much of a man." 

Laurent laughed inwardly, at the thought of his friend's 
pallor and leanness. Then he continued to himself : 

" She is bored in that shop. I go there because I have 


nowhere else to go. If I had, I should not often be found 
at the Passage du Pont-Neuf. It is damp and dismal, 
enough to kill a woman. Most decidedly she admires me ; 
then why not I instead of another 2 " 

He stopped short, full of self-conceit, and looked with an 
absent air at the Seine as it flowed along. 

" By Jove ! so much the worse," he cried ; " I will kiss 
her the first opportunity. I bet she will fall at once into 
my arms.'' 

He walked on, and began to waver. 

"After all, she is ugly," he thought. "She has a long 
nose, a big mouth. And, besides, I am not a bit in love 
with her. Perhaps I shall get into some bother. This re- 
quires consideration." 

Laurent, who was very prudent, turned these thoughts 
over for a full week. He calculated all the possible results 
of an intimacy with Therese; he only decided to try his 
fortune, when it became clear to him that it was his own 
interest to do so. 

Therese was to him ugly, it is true, and he did not love 
her ; but, after all, she would be no expense to him ; the 
women whom he could obtain cheaply were, certainly, neither 
prettier nor more beloved. Economy was already advising 
him to take his friend's wife. On the other hand, he had 
not for a long time satisfied his carnal desires ; money being 
scarce, he had denied his flesh, and he did not care to lose 
the opportunity of gratifying it a little. Moreover, an 
intimacy of this kind could not have unpleasant conse- 
quences. Therese would, for her own sake, conceal every- 
thing, and he could easily break off with her whenever he 
wished ; even supposing Camille discovered all and was 
furious, he would annihilate him with one blow if he became 
nasty. The question presented itself to Laurent in all its 
bearings, as easy and attractive. 


From this moment he lived in serenity, biding his time. 
He had decided to boldly take the first opportunity that 
offered. He saw a vista before him of blissful evenings. 
All the Kaquins would add to his pleasures : Theiese would 
cool his blood ; Madame Eaquin would care for him like a 
mother ; Camille, by his conversation, would help to while 
away the long evenings in the shop. 

The portrait was approaching completion, the opportunities 
did not present themselves. Thdrese was always present, 
dejected and anxious ; but Camille never left the room, and 
Laurent did not see how to get rid of him for an hour. He 
was obliged, however, to announce one day that the portrait 
would be finished at the next sitting. Madame Eaquin said 
they must dine together to celebrate the event. 

Next day, when Laurent had given the finishing touch to 
the picture, all the family joined in admiring the excellent 
likeness. The portrait was wretched, the prevailing tint 
dirty grey, with large purple blotches. Laurent could not 
use the most brilliant colours without rendering them dingy 
and muddy ; he had unconsciously exaggerated the undecided 
colouring of his model, and Camille's face had the greenish 
hue of a drowned man; the distorted drawing convulsed the 
features, thus making the ghastly resemblance the more 
striking. But Camille was enchanted; he found that he 
had a distinguished appearance on canvas. 

When he had sufficiently admired himself, he declared he 
must go and get two bottles of champagne. Madame Eaquin 
went down again to the shop. The artist was left alone 
with Therese. 

The young wife remained seated, looking vaguely before 
her. She seemed trembling expectantly. Laurent hesitated ; 
he examined his canvas, he played with his brushes. Time 
was flying, Camille might return, the opportunity would, 
perhaps, never recur. The painter turned abruptly and 


found himself face to face with Therese. They looked at 
each other for some seconds. 

Then, with a violent movement, Laurent bent down and 
pressed her to his breast. He threw back her head, while 
crushing her lips with his own. She ■ made a wild, angry 
movement of resistance, and, suddenly yielding, slipped to 
the ground. They did not utter one word. The act was 
silent and brutish. 


p. 46. 



From the very beginning the lovers found their intimacy 
absolutely necessary, decreed by fate, and, indeed, quite 
natural. At their first interview they addressed each other 
familiarly, they embraced, without embarrassment, without 
blushes, as if this intimacy had lasted for years. They 
lived at ease in these new relations, with perfect tranquillity 
and effrontery. 

They arranged their meetings. Therese not being able 
to go out, it was settled that Laurent should visit her. The 
young woman explained to him, quite composedly, the plan 
she had arranged. The interviews were to be in her own 
bedroom. The lover could come in by the alley which com- 
muuicated with the Passage, and Therese would open the 
stair-case door. At this time, Camille would be at his office, 
and Madame Raquin down in the shop. Such audacity 
ought to succeed. 

Laurent agreed. Prudent though he was, he had a sort 
of brute courage, the courage of a man with a mighty fist. 
The grave calm air of his mistress decided him to come and 
enjoy a passion so boldly offered. He made an excuse to 
ask for a couple of hours from the head of his department, 
and he hastened to the Passage du Pont-Neuf. 

On entering the Passage, he experienced an exquisite 
voluptuousness. The dealer in false jewellery was sitting just 
facing the door of the alley. He waited for her attention 
to be diverted by a young sempstress who came to buy a 
brass ring or some ear-rings. Then he rapidly entered the 


alley; he mounted the dark, narrow staircase, leaning on 
the damp walls. His feet struck against the stone steps ; 
at the sound of each blow he felt a burning sensation tra 
verse his chest. A door opened. On, the threshold, in a 
bright light, he saw Therfese in quite dazzling deshabille, 
with her hair in a tight knot behind her head. She closed 
the door, she hung upon his neck. From her person there 
came a warm aroma of fresh linen and of newly washed 

Laurent, to his amazement, found his mistress beautiful. 
He had never really seen this woman. Therese, supple and 
strong, clasped him in her arms, throwing her head back, 
and on her face played burning light, passionate smiles. 
This lover's face was as though transfigured ; she looked 
madly caressing; she was beaming, with moist lips, and 
shining eyes. This woman, lithely twisting in billowy 
undulations, was beautiful with a strange beauty full of 
transport. Her face looked as though illumined from within, 
while her flesh seemed to emit flames. And her burning 
blood, her straining nerves, exhaled around her a warm 
effluvia, a pungent and penetrating atmosphere. 

At the first kiss, she revealed herself a courtesan. Her 
unsatiated frame flung itself distractedly into voluptuousness. 
She awoke as from a dream, and passion was born within 
her. She passed from Camille's feeble arms to Laurent's 
powerful embrace, and this contact with a strong man gave 
her a sudden shock which awoke her to fleshly desires. All 
her nervous woman's instincts burst forth with astounding 
violence ; her mother's blood, that African blood which 
burned in her veins, began to flow and to throb furiously 
in her slender and still almost virgin body. She displayed 
herself, offered herself unreservedly, with sovereign im- 
modesty. Her whole frame, from head to foot, was agitated 
with prolonged thrills 


Never had Laurent met such a woman. He was as- 
tonished, ill at ease. Usually his mistresses did not receive 
him with such warmth ; he was used to cold, indifferent 
kisses, to wearied and surfeited flames. Therese's fits and 
sobs almost frightened him, though they excited his sensual 
curiosity. When he left her, he reeled like a drunken man. 
The next day, when his cunning and prudence had returned, 
he debated as to the wisdom of again visiting this woman 
whose kisses put him in such a fever. He at first fully de- 
cided to stay away. Then he was filled with alarm. He 
would forget and never again see Thirese in her nakedness, 
with her soft licentious caresses, and yet there she was ever 
before his mind's eye, waiting, holding out her arms. The 
physical suffering caused by this vision became intolerable. 

He yielded, he made an appointment, he returned to the 
Passage du Pont-Neuf. 

From that day, Therese formed part of his existence. 
He did not accept her as yet, but he endured her. He had 
hours of terror, moments of prudence, and, in short, this 
intimacy disturbed him greatly ; but his fears, his uneasiness, 
yielded to his desires. The meetings succeeded each other 
and multiplied. 

Therese had none of these misgivings. She gave herself 
up entirely, going straight where her passion urged her. 
This woman whom circumstances had led, and who now 
went her own way, laid bare her whole being, describing her 

Sometimes she passed her arms round Laurent's neck, she 
hung on his breast, and, still panting : 

" Oh ! if you only knew,'' she would say, " how I have 
suffered ! I have been reared in the damp air of a sick- 
room. I used to sleep with Camille ; at night I kept as far 
as I could from him, disgusted with the sickly odour which 
emanated from his body. He was spiteful and obstinate ; 


he would take no medicine that I did not share ; to please 
my aunt I drank some of all the nasty drugs, I wonder I am 
not dead. They made me ugly, my poor friend ; they stole 
from me all I had to toast of, and you cannot love me as I 
love you." 

She wept, she kissed Laurent, and continued with sullen 
animosity : 

" I don't wish them harm. They have reared me and 
saved me from poverty. But I should have preferred de- 
sertion to their hospitality. I longed for fresh air ; as a 
child I longed to trot along the roads, hare-footed in the 
dust, begging my bread, living like a gipsy. They tell me 
my mother was the daughter of an African chief ; I have 
often thought of her, and understood that I partook of her 
nature and instincts, I should like to have never left her and 
to have crossed the sandy desert tied to her back. Ah ! 
mine has indeed been a miserable youth ! I still feel sick 
with disgust and anger when I remember the long days I 
passed in the room where Camille was moaning. I used to 
be stooping over the fire, stupidly watching the boiling of 
the diet-drinks, feeling my limbs stiffening. And I might 
not move, my aunt scolded when I made a noise. Later on 
I enjoyed immensely the change to ,the little house by the 
river, but I was already stultified, I could hardly walk, I 
fell down when I ran. Then I was buried alive in this vile 

Tberese breathed hard, she clasped her lover in her arms, 
she was having her revenge, and her thin delicate nostrils 
were quivering nervously. 

" You would hardly believe,'' she went on, " how wicked 
they made me. I became a hypocrite, and a liar. They 
stifled me with their homely kindness, and I wonder I have 
still so much blood left in my veins. I lowered my eyes, I 
made my face like theirs, dull and vacuous, I led their 


lifeless existence. When you first saw me, did I not look 
like some animal t I was solemn, depressed, trodden down. 
I had no more hope in anything, I intended one day throw- 
ing myself into the Seine. But before this dejection, what 
nights of rage ! At Vernon, in my little cold room, I bit 
my pillow to stifle my cries, I beat myself, I called myself a 
coward. My blood was on fire and I could have torn my 
flesh Twice I was on the point of escaping, running 
straight before me to the sun ; my courage failed, they had 
made me as docile as an animal with their enervating kindness 
and their loathsome tenderness. Then I became untruthful, 
always untruthful. I remained there so gentle and silent, 
yet dreaming all the while of striking and biting." 

She stopped, wiping her moist lips on Laurent's neck. 
Then she added, after a pause : 

" I don't know why I consented to marry Camille ; I did 
not refuse, from a kind of disdainful indifference. The poor 
child excited my pity. When I played with him, I felt my 
fingers sink into his limbs as though they were lumps of 
clay. I took him, because my aunt offered him to me, and 
I never intended to disturb myself for him. And I found 
in my husband the little delicate boy with whom I used to 
sleep at six years old. He was just as frail, just as com- 
plaining, and he retained the unpleasant sickly odour which 
used formerly to disgust me so much. I tell you all this 
that you may not be jealous. A sort of repugnance rose in 
my throat ; I thought of the drugs I had swallowed, I shrank 
from him, and passed terrible nights. But you, you—" 

And Therese started up, bending back her fingers in 
Laurent's great hands, looking at his massive shoulders, his 
enormous neck. 

" You, I love, I have loved you from the moment Camille 
pushed you into the shop. Perhaps you despise me for my 
entire and immediate surrender. True, I scarce know how 


that happened. I am proud and passionate. I could have 
beaten you, the first day, when you embraced me in this 
room. I don't know why I loved you; I almost think I 
hated you. Your presence irritated me, made me suffer ; 
when you were there, my nerves were stretched fit to break, 
my head felt light, I saw everything in red. Oh ! how I 
suffered ! And I sought this suffering, I longed for your 
coming, I hung about your chair to walk amidst your breath, 
to touch your clothes with mine. It seemed as if your blood 
blew warmly upon me as I passed, and it was this kind of 
ardent atmosphere in which you were enveloped, which 
attracted and held me to your side, in spite of my secret 
resistance. You remember when you were painting here : 
a fatal power drew me to your side, I inhaled your breath 
with cruel delight. I understood that I must seem begging 
for kisses, I was ashamed of my slavery, I felt I must fall if 
you touched me. But I yielded to my cowardice, I shudderd 
with cold while waiting for you to take me in your arms." 

Then Therese ceased, quivering, proud, and avenged. 
She held Laurent intoxicated on her breast, and that bare 
and icy room witnessed scenes of ardent passion, of brutish 
licence. Their voluptuous frenzy increased with every 
additional meeting. 

The young woman seemed to exult in audacious effrontery. 
She never hesitated ; never feared. She ilung herself into 
adultery with a sort of frank energy, braving peril, finding 
pleasure in danger. When expecting her lover, she would 
tell her aunt she was going upstairs to rest a little ; and, 
when he was there, she walked about, chatted, acted openly, 
without once thinking of avoiding noise. Sometimes, at the 
beginning, Laurent grew nervous. 

" Good heavens ! " he would whisper to Therese, " don't 
make such a noise. Madame Raquin will come up." 

" Nonsense ! " she would reply, laughing, " you are 


always trembling. She is glued behind her counter ; what 
should she come here for? She would be too much afraid 
of being robbed. Besides, after all, let her come, if she likes. 
You can hide. She doesn't alarm me. I love you.'' 

These words did not reassure Laurent very much. 
Passion had not yet lulled his sly boorish prudence. Soon, 
however, habit made him accept, with not overmuch terror, 
the dangers of these meetings in broad daylight, in 
Camille's bedroom, only a few steps from the old lady. 
His mistress told him that danger spares those who face it 
boldly, and she was right. Never could the lovers have 
found a safer retreat than this room, where no one would 
have dreamt of seeking them. They satisfied their lustful 
desires in incredible peace. 

One day, however, Madame Kaquin did go up, fearing her 
niece was ill. The young woman had been nearly three 
hours upstairs. She had had the audacity to leave the 
door which led to the dining-room unbolted. 

When Laurent heard the aunt's heavy tread mounting 
the stairs, he was in a fright, and feverishly sought his hat 
and waistcoat. Therese began laughing at his curious 
expression. She took him firmly by the arm, pushed him 
down in a corner near the foot of the bed, and said in 
low quiet tones : 

" Stay there, don't move.'' 

She threw over him any garments of his that were lying 
about, and over the whole a white petticoat of her own 
which she had taken off. All this was done deftly and 
quickly, without any flurry. Then she lay down again, 
half dressed, her hair undone, still heated and quivering. 

Madame Raquin gently opened the door and approached 
the bed with muffled tread. Her niece feigned sleep. 
Laurent was perspiring under the white petticoat. 

" Therese, my child," asked the old lady, " are you ill 1 " 


Thdrfese opened her eyes, yawned, turned away and 
replied in a suffering tone that her head was splitting. 
She besought her aunt to let her sleep a little. The old 
lady went off as quietly as she had come. 

The two lovers, silently laughing, embraced each other 
with passionate violence. 

"You see," said Therese triumphantly, "that we have 
nothing to fear here. All these people are blind ; they are 
not in love." 

Another day the young woman had a fantastic notion. 
She was sometimes almost delirious, like a mad woman. 
The tabby cat Francois was sitting on his haunches in the 
very middle of the room. Solemn, motionless, he fixed his 
round eyes on the two lovers. He seemed carefully to 
examine them, without lowering his lids, lost in a sort of 
fiendish ecstasy. 

" Look at Francois," said Therese to Laurent. "One might 
almost fancy he understands, and is going to tell all to- 
night to Camille. Wouldn't it be funny if he began talking 
in the shop one of these days ; he knows some fine tales 
about us.'' 

This idea of Francois talking highly diverted the young 
woman. Laurent looked at the cat's large green eyes, and 
shuddered : 

"This is what he would do," continued Therese. "He 
would stand up, and pointing with his paw first to me and 
next to you, he would exclaim : ' This lady and gentleman 
embrace each other considerably in the bedroom ; they do 
not mind me, but as their guilty love disgusts me, I beg 
you to send them to prison ; then they cannot disturb my 
siesta any longer.' " 

Therese joked like a child, she imitated the cat, she 
stretched out her hands like claws, she gave feline undula- 
tions to her shoulders. Francois, sitting as motionless as 


stone, continued contemplating her ; his eyes alone seemed 
to have life in them ; and, in the corners of his jaw, there 
were two deep furrows, which gave a most comical expres- 
sion to this inanimate head. 

Laurent felt his blood run cold. He did not enter into 
Therese's fun. He rose up and put the cat out of the room. 
In reality he was frightened. His mistress did not yet 
possess him utterly ; there still remained with him a little 
of the uneasiness he had felt when first he found himself in 
her embrace. 



In the evening, down in the shop, Laurent was perfectly 
happy. He generally returned from the office with Camille. 
Madame Raquin had conceived quite a motherly affection 
for him ; she knew he was pinched for means, living in an 
attic, feeding poorly, and she had told him once for all that 
he would always find a place laid for him at her table. She 
loved him with that noisy affection often shown by old 
women to those who come from their native place, and form 
a link with their past. 

The young man made the most of this hospitality. On 
quitting the office, he and Camille would take a walk along 
the quays ; both enjoyed this intimacy ; it helped to pass 
the time as they chatted and strolled along. Then they 
returned home and partook of Madame Raquin's soup. 
Laurent would coolly open the shop door as though he were 
master; he sat astride the chairs, smoking and expector- 
ating, and making himself at home. 

Therese's presence did not in the least embarrass him. 
He treated her with rough friendliness, he joked, and paid 
her silly compliments without moving a muscle of his face. 
Camille laughed, and, as his wife only replied in mono- 
syllables, he firmly believed they de'tested each other. One 
day he even reproached Therese for her coldness to his 
friend Laurent. 

Laurent had accomplished his project: he had become 
the wife's lover, the husband's friend, the mother's spoilt 
child. Never had he been able so delightfully to satisfy all 


his appetites. He basked in the rays of infinite enjoyment 
shed upon him by the Eaquin family. Besides which, his 
position in this family seemed to him quite natural. He 
was most familiar with Camille without anger or remorse. 
He was not even guarded in his words or gestures, he felt 
such confidence in his own calm prudence ; the selfishness 
with which he enjoyed his good fortune protected him from 
any mistake. In the shop, his mistress became like any 
other woman, whom he must not kiss and who had no 
existence for him. If he never embraced her before the 
others, it was because he feared he would never set foot in 
the house again. This eventuality alone stopped him ; 
otherwise, he would have laughed at the grief of Camille 
and his mother. He never contemplated what might result 
from the discovery of his criminal intercourse. He con- 
sidered he was acting simply as any other poor, starving 
man would have done under similar circumstances. Hence 
his edifying quiescence, his prudent audacity, his attitude of 
disinterested banter. 

Therese, more nervous, more agitated than he, was forced 
to play a part. She played it to perfection, thanks to the 
hypocrisy implanted in her by her education. For nearly 
fifteen years she had deceived, stifling her cravings, appear- 
ing dull and sleepy by an effort of implacable will. It cost 
her little now to place over her countenance a dead, icy 
mask. When Laurent entered he found her serious, sulky, 
her nose lengthened, her lips attenuated. She was ugly, 
sullen, unapproachable. After all, she was exaggerating 
nothing. She was playing her old r61e, without arousing 
attention by increased abruptness. True, she felt a bitter 
enjoyment in deceiving Camille and Madame Raquin ; she 
was not like Laurent, sunk in the animal enjoyment of his 
appetites, unmindful of duty; she knew she was doing 
wrong, and she had fierce longings to rise from table and 


embrace Laurent on the lips, to show her husband and her 
aunt that she was no fool and that she had a lover. 

Sometimes a flush of happiness would suffuse her ; then, 
excellent actress as she was, she could not resist singing 
when her lover was away, and she was not afraid of betray- 
ing herself. These sudden outbursts of gaiety charmed 
Madame Raquin, who often accused her niece of being too 
grave. The young woman bought pots of flowers to decor- 
ate her bedroom window ; then she had the room re- 
papered, bought a carpet, curtains, and new violet ebony 
furniture. All this luxury was for Laurent. 

Nature and circumstances seemed to have made this man 
and woman for each other, and to have thrown them to- 
gether. Between them, the woman nervous and hypo- 
critical, the man sanguine and coarse, they made a strongly 
united couple. They completed and protected each other. 
In the evening, at table, in the pale lamp-light, one felt the 
force of their union, looking from the thick smiling face of 
Laurent to Th^rese's mute, impenetrable mask. 

Those were quiet, happy evenings. Friendly words rose 
in the silence of the cool transparent shadows. They closed 
in round the table ; after dessert, the talk ran on the 
thousand trifles of the day, the memories of yesterday, the 
hopes of the morrow. Camille loved Laurent as much as 
his selfish, satisfied nature allowed, and Laurent seemed to 
return his affection; they exchanged phrases of devotion, 
friendly gestures and kind glances. Madame Raquin, with 
placid countenance, felt perfect peace among her children, 
and in the quiet atmosphere they breathed. One would 
have thought this a gathering of old acquaintances, who 
knew each other's hearts, and who slept peacefully in mutual 
faith in each other's friendship. 

Therese, motionless, quiet like the rest, contemplated 
these vulgar pleasures, these smiling abstractions. And in 


her heart there was wild laughter ; her whole being mocked 
them while her aspect was coldly rigid. She reminded herself, 
chuckling inwardly, that some hours before she was in the 
next room, half naked, on Laurent's breast ; she mentally 
recalled every detail of that afternoon of mad passion, she 
enjoyed it all again in memory, contrasting that burning 
scene with the lifeless reality before her eyes. Ah ! how 
she was deceiving these good people, and how the thought 
of her triumphantly audacious deceit delighted her ! And 
it was there, a few paces off, behind that thin partition, that 
she received a man ; it was there that she wallowed in his 
adulterous embraces. And now, at this hour, her lover 
became a stranger to her, a friend of her husband, a sort of 
stupid intruder for whom she must not care. This atrocious 
comedy, these deceptions in her life, this contrast between 
the burning kisses of the day and the acted indifference of 
the evening, gave a fresh impulse to the young woman's 

When Madame Eaquin and Camille happened to go 
downstairs, Therese sprang up, fastened her lips silently, 
with brutish sensuality, on her lover's lips, and remained 
thus, panting, stifling, until steps were heard on the stairs. 
Then, with rapid movement, she resumed her place, and her 
sullen expression. Laurent, in quiet tones, continued his 
interrupted conversation with Camille. It was a flash of 
passion, rapid and blinding, in a leaden sky. 

The Thursday evening was a little more animated. 
Laurent, who, at these gatherings, was wearied to death, 
made it a duty, however, not to miss one of them : prudence 
counselled him to be known and esteemed by Camille's 
friends. He had to endure the twaddle of Grivet and old 
Michaud ; the latter with his everlasting stories of theft 
and murder ; the former of his employees, his chiefs, his 
staff. The young man took refuge with Olivier and Suz- 


anne, whose stupidity seemed a little less wearisome. Besides, 
he always hastened to call for the dominoes. 

It was always on Thursday evening that Therese fixed 
the day and hour for their assignations. In the little confu- 
sion of departure, when Madame Eaquin and Camille 
accompanied their guests to the front door, the young 
woman approached Laurent, spoke to him in a whisper, and 
pressed his hand. Sometimes even, when all had their 
backs turned, she embraced him, out of a sort of bravado. 

For eight months this life of excitement and reaction 
lasted. The lovers lived in complete bliss ; Therese never 
was wearied, never discontented now ; Laurent, feasted, 
caressed, fatter than ever, had but one fear, that any acci- 
dent should interrupt this glorious existence. 



One afternoon, as Laurent was about to leave the office to 
visit Therese, who was expecting him, his chief sent for him, 
and told him he could not in future permit him to absent 
himself. He had abused their leniency. The Company 
had decided to dismiss him if he went out again during 
office hours. 

Glued to his stool, he was in despair until it was time to 
leave. He must keep his situation ; he could not afford to 
lose it. In the evening he was tortured by Therese's 
annoyed expression. He did not know how to explain his 
absence to his mistress. While Camille was closing the 
shop, he approached her quickly : 

" We cannot have any more meetings,' - said he, in a low 
voice. " My chief refuses me any further leave of absence.'' 

Camille came back. Laurent had to go without explaining 
more, leaving Therese aghast at this sudden information. 
Exasperated, unwilling to admit that anyone could trouble 
her amours, she passed a sleepless night, building impossible 
plans for interviews. The following Thursday procured her 
only a minute's speech with Laurent. Their anxiety was 
heightened by their ignorance of a safe meeting-place for 
consultation and explanation. The young woman made 
another appointment with her lover, and he disappointed 
her a second time. From that moment she had but one 
fixed idea — to see him at all hazards. 

For a fortnight Laurent had been unable to see Therese 


alone. Then he felt how necessary this woman had become 
to him ; the habit of embracing her had created new appe- 
tites, a£utelj__sxacting^- He no longer felt uneasy in his 
"mistress's arms ; he sought her caresses with the pertinacity 
of a hungry animal. A sanguine passion had developed in 
his muscles. Now that his mistress was separated from him, 
this passion declared itself with blind violence ; he loved 
furiously. Conscience held no sway in this brutish nature ; 
he obeyed his instincts ; he followed the promptings of his 
organism. He would have gone into fits of laughter a 
year before if he had been told he would become the slave 
of a woman, to the extent of disturbing his own ease. His 
animal passions had been secretly at work unbeknown to 
him, and had ended by casting him, bound hand and foot, 
as a prey to Therese's fierce caresses. Now he dreaded he 
might forget his usual prudence ; he did not dare to come 
in the evening to the Passage du Pont-Neuf, for fear of doing 
something foolish. He was no longer master of his actions. 
His mistress, with her feline grace, her nervous flexibility, 
had insinuated herself into every fibre of bis frame. He 
required this woman to enable him to live, as one requires to 
drink, to eat. 

He would certainly have done something rash had he not 
received a letter from Therese, advising him to stay at home 
the following day. His mistress promised to come and see 
him about eight o'clock in the evening. 

On leaving the office, he got rid of Camille, with the 
excuse of being tired and wanting to go at once to bed. 
Therese, after dinner, also played her part. She spoke of a 
customer who had removed from the neighbourhood without 
paying her bill, and she acted the harsh creditor, announcing 
her intention of going to try and get her money. The cus- 
tomer was now living at Batignolles. Madame Raquin and 
Camille considered the journey too long for her, and the 

THft&fiSK RAQUIN. 63 

result doubtful ; however, they made no further demur, and 
let Therese go without any misgivings. 

The young women hurried off to the Port-aux-Vins, 
slipping on the greasy pavement, jostling the passers-by in 
her haste to arrive. Her face became wet with perspiration ; 
her hands were burning. She seemed like a drunken 
woman. She quickly mounted the stairs of the lodging- 
house. On the sixth storey, panting, with wild looks, she 
perceived Laurent, leaning over the banisters, awaiting 

She entered the attic. Her ample skirts had hardly room 
enough in the narrow space. She tore off her bonnet with 
one hand, and leant half fainting against the bed. The sky- 
light window, wide open, admitted the fresh evening air on 
to the burning couch. The lovers remained long in the 
wretched garret as in a snug hole. Suddenly Therese heard 
the clock of the Eglise de la Pitie 1 strike ten. She would 
willingly have been deaf. She rose up painfully and ex- 
amined this attic which she had not before noticed. She 
put on her bonnet, tied the strings, and said slowly, as she 
sat down : 

" I must go." 

Laurent was now on his knees before her. He took her 

"Good-bye," said she without moving. 

"No, not only good-bye," cried he, "that is not sufficient. 
What day will you return '! " 

She looked him in the face. 

" You wish to know the truth ? " said she. " Well ! 
really, I don't think I shall ever return. I have no pretext, 
I can invent none." 

" Then, we must say farewell." 

" No, I cannot ! I will not ! " 

She spoke these words in frightened, angrj tones She 


added, more quietly, without knowing what she said, with- 
out rising from her chair : 

" I am going." 

Laurent pondered. His thoughts were of Camille. 

" I have nothing to say against him,'' said he at last, 
without naming him ; " but he is really a great nuisance to 
us. Could you not get rid of him, send him somewhere on 
a very long journey 1 " 

" Oh ! yes, on a journey ! " replied the young woman, 
tossing her head. " You think a man like that would 
consent to travel. There is but one journey from which 
there is no return. But he will live to bury us all ; such 
weaklings never die." 

A pause ensued. Laurent crawled on his knees, pressing 
against his mistress, laying his head on her bosom. 
f " I have often dreamed," said he, " of passing the whole 
j night with you, of falling asleep in your arms, and of awak- 
ing in the morning beneath your kisses. I would like to be 
/ your husband. You understand 1 " 
j^"Yes, yes," replied Therese, shivering. 

And she suddenly bent over Laurent's face which she 
covered with kisses. She rubbed her bonnet strings against 
his rough beard ; she forgot she was dressed and that she 
was crumpling her clothes. She sobbed, she panted out 
words in the midst of her tears. 

" Do not say such things," she cried, " or I shall not have 
strength to leave you, I shall be unable to tear myself 
away.- Give me courage instead ; tell me we shall meet 
again. Am I not necessary to you, and shall we not some 
day find the means of living together 1 " 

" Well then, come again, come to-morrow," replied 
Laurent, whose trembling arms encircled her waist. 

"But I cannot come. I told you so, I have no pretext" 

She twisted her arms about. She went on : 


" Oh ! it is not the scandal that alarms me. When I go 
home I will, if you wish, tell Camille that you are my lover, 
and I will come back and sleep here. It is for you I tremble ; 
I do not wish to disturb your life, I wish to make it 

The young man's prudent instincts were aroused. 

" You are right,' - said he, " we must not act like children. 
Ah ! if only your husband were to die." 

" If my husband were to die," repeated Therese slowly. 

"We could marry each other, we should then have nothing 
to fear, we should revel in love. What a happy and 
delightful existence ! " 

The young woman rose up. With pale cheeks, she gazed 
darkly at her lover ; her lips quivered. 

" People die sometimes," she murmured, at last. " Only 
it is dangerous for the survivors." 

Laurent was silent. 

"You see," she continued, "all the known, means are 

" You have misunderstood me," said he quietly. " I am 
not a fool, I want to love you in peace. I was only think- 
ing accidents happen every day, the foot may slip, a tile 
may fall. You understand? In the latter case, the wind 
alone is to blame." 

His voice was strange. He smiled and added caressingly : 

" Now, go love, and make your mind easy, we will live 
and be happy. As you cannot come, leave it to me. If we 
are months without a meeting, remember that I am working 
for our future bliss." 

He pressed Therese to his heart, and she opened the door 
to go. 

" You are mine, mine alone 1 " he asked. " Swear to 
give yourself wholly to me at any moment that I may claim 



" Yes," cried the young woman, " I am yours; do with me 
what you will." 

They remained a moment wild but yet silent. Then 
Therese abruptly tore herself away, and, without turning 
her head, left the attic and went downstairs. Laurent 
listened to her retreating footsteps. 

When all was still, he returned to his room and got into 
bed. The sheets were warm. He was stifling in this 
narrow hole which Therese had left full of the ardour of 
her passion. He seemed still inhaling her breath ; she had 
been there, shedding penetrating emanations, a scent of 
violets, and now he could only clasp in his arms the shadowy 
phantom of his mistress as it hung about him ; he felt the 
fever of rekindled and unsatisfied desire. He did not 
close the window. Lying flat on his back, with bare arms 
and outspread hands, seeking coolness, he meditated, gazing 
the while on the square of dark blue which the window 
frame cut out of the sky. 

Till dawn of day, the same idea revolved in his head.. 
Before Therese's visit, he had not contemplated killing 
Camille ; he had spoken of the young man's death, moved 
by circumstances, irritated at the thought of separation 
from his mistress. Thus was revealed a new phase of his 
unbridled nature : he began to dream of murder in the 
intoxication of his adultery. 

Now, grown calm, alone in the middle of the quiet night, 
his thoughts were bent on killing. The idea of death, sug- 
gested to him as a last resource, between two burning kisses, 
returned implacable and persistent. Laurent, shaken by 
sleeplessness, enervated by the pungent odours Therese had 
left behind her, planned ambushes, calculated accidents, dis- 
covered the advantages he would derive from being an as- 

All his self-interest urged him to the crime. He told 



himself that his father, the peasant at Jeufosse, was not 
thinking of dying yet; he might have to remain a clerk another 
ten years, dining meanly at a cheap eating-house, living up 
in a garret, without a wife. This prospect exasperated him. 
On the other hand, Camille dead, he would marry Therese, 
become Madame Eaquin's heir, leave the office and bask in 
the sun. Then he pleased his fancy with a vision of this 
idle life, doing nothing but eat and sleep whilst patiently 
awaiting his father's death. And when his dream melted 
into reality, he found Camille in his path, he clinched his 
fists as if to fell him with a blow. 

Laurent wanted Therese ; he wanted to have her always 
within reach, and for himself alone. If he did not get rid 
of the husband, the wife would never be his. She had told 
him she could not return. He would willingly have carried 
her off, out of reach, but then they would both have starved. 
The lesser risk would be to kill the husband ; no scandal 
need ensue, he only removed a man to take his place. In 
his boorish selfishness he considered this measure excellent 
and natural. His native prudence even counselled this rapid 

He tossed about on his bed, all in a perspiration, turning 
on his damp face, pressing it to the pillow that had sup- 
ported Therfese's dishevelled tresses. He took the sheet be- 
tween his parched lips, he inhaled the light perfume still 
pervading it, and he lay there, panting, half smothered, 
seeing bars of fire pass along his closed eyelids. He asked 
himself how he could best kill Camille. Then, when his 
breath failed, he bounded over on his back, and, with 
dilated eyes, receiving full in the face the cold air from the 
window, be sought in the stars, in the dark blue square of 
sky, a method of murder, a plan of assassination. 

He found none. As he had told his mistress, he was 
neither a child nor a fool ; he would not touch either dngger 


or poison. He must commit a sly secret crime, accomplished 
without danger, a diabolical suffocation, without noise, with- 
\ out shock, a simple disappearance. In vain did passion rouse 
him and urge him on; his whole being imperiously demanded 
caution. He was too cowardly, too voluptuous, to risk his 
tranquillity. He would kill, but only to ensure a calm and 
. happy existence. 

Gradually sleep overpowered him. The fresh air had ex- 
orcised Therese's warm and fragrant phantom. Laurent, 
weary, appeased, yielded himself up to a quiet dreamy tor- 
por. As he fell asleep, he decided that he would await a 
favourable opportunity, and his thoughts, growing more and 
more indistinct, rocked him off to the refrain : " I will kill 
him, I will kill him." Five minutes later, he was uncon- 
scious, breathing with serene regularity. 

The>ese arrived home at eleven o'clock, her head on 
fire, her mind on the strain. She arrived at the Passage du 
Pont-Neuf unconscious of the road she had traversed. She 
seemed to have just left Laurent, so filled were her ears with 
the words he had spoken. She found Madame Raquin and 
Camille anxious and full of kind attention; she replied curtly 
to their questionsTsaying she had had all her trouble for noth- 
ing, and had been kept waiting a full hour for an omnibus. 

When she went to bed, she found the sheets cold and 
damp. Her limbs, still burning, shuddered with repug- 
nance. Camille was. not long in falling asleep, and Therese 
gazed and gazed at that leaden-hued face resting stupidly, 
with open mouth, on the pillow. She drew away from him 
she felt a longing to cram her clinched fist into that mouth. 



fill IS ! lis 

si^-.-.._. — 




p. 68. 


Neaelt three weeks had passed. Laurent called at the shop 
every evening ; he seemed wearied, as though by illness ; he 
had pale bluish rings round his eyes ; his lips were dis- 
coloured and swollen. But his apathy was unchanged ; he 
still looked Camille full in the face — he still manifested the 
same blunt friendship towards him. Madame Eaquin petted 
her son's friend all the more since she became aware of the 
latent fever which seemed to be wasting him. 

Therese had resumed her mute and surly expression. She 
was more motionless, more 1 impenetrable, more docile than 
ever. Laurent might not be in existence as far as she was 
concerned ; she hardly looked at him, spoke to him but sel- 
dom, treated him with the most complete indifference. 
Madame Eaquin, whose kindly nature was pained by such 
conduct, would often say to the young man : 

" Don't take any notice of my niece's coldness. I know 
her thoroughly ; she seems cold enough outwardly, but she 
has a warm heart. She is the tenderest, the most devoted 
girl in the world." ' 

The lovers had no more stolen interviews. Since the 
night in the Eue Saint- Victor, they had never again met in 
private. In the evenings, sitting opposite to each other, to 
all appearance composed and utter strangers to each other's 
thoughts, a flood of passion, of terror, and of lust, was boil- 
ing behind the calm faces of both. And Therese gave way 
to fits of anger, to unkind acts, and .cruel remarks; while 
Laurent showed every now and then some trace of his brutish 

70 THERESE raquin. 

nature, of Lis painful indecision. They themselves did not 
dare to sound the depths of their own hearts, or to venture 
among the rank fumes of the evil thoughts which filled their 

When they had a chance, behind some door, they would 
silently squeeze each other's hands, almost hard enough to 
crush them, with a rough swift grip. They would both have 
been glad if the other's flesh could have adhered to their 
burning fingers. That pressure of the hands was the only 
caress they had left to appease their desires. Into it they 
condensed their whole being. They asked each other for no 
more. They were waiting. 

One Thursday evening, before sitting down to their game, 
the guests of the Raquin establishment had as usual a little 
chat. One of their chief topics was the former profession of 
old Michaud ; they would get him to tell the story of the 
adventures — blood-curdling or extraordinary — in which he 
had played a part. Then Grivet and Camille would listen 
to the ex-commissary of police, with gaping mouth and hair 
on end, like children hearing " Blue Beard " or " Tom 
Thumb " for the first time. It frightened them, and it 
amused them. 

That particular day, Michaud, who had been giving them 
the account of a horrible murder, with an elaboration of 
detail that made tfyem shudder, concluded, shaking his head 
as he spoke : 

'• And, after all, there is a lot that we shall never know. 
How many crimes there are which never come to light ! 
How many murderers escape Imman justice ! " 

" What ! " cried Grivet, in astonishment, " do you mean 
to say that you believe that there are villains walking about 
in the street, like anybody else, who have committed mur- 
ders, and who are not arrested." 

Olivier smiled with a disdainful air. 


" My dear sir," he answered in his pedantic voice, " if they 
are not arrested, it is because it is not known that they have 
committed a murder.'' 

Grivet did not seem convinced by this argument. Camille 
came to his help. 

" For my part, I agree with Monsieur Grivet," he said, 
with all the importance of his stupidity. " I prefer to believe 
that the police do their duty, and that I shall never be 
jostled by a murderer in the street." 

Olivier interpreted these words into a personal attack. 

" Of course the police does its duty," he exclaimed with 
some irritation. " But we can't do what is impossible. 
There are some villains who have studied crime in the devil's 
own academy ; the Archangel Michael himself could not 
catch them. Don't you think so, father 1 " 

"Why, yes," agreed old Michaud. "It so happens that 
when I was at Vernon — you will perhaps remember 
the case, Madame Kaquin — a waggoner was murdered 
on the high road. The body was found in a ditch, cut 
to pieces. The murderer has not been caught yet. He 
may be alive to this day ; he may be a neighbour of ours ; 
and perhaps Monsieur Grivet will meet him on his way 

Grivet turned as white as a sheet. He hardly dared look 
over his shoulder for fear he should see the waggoner's 
murderer standing behind him. Besides, he enjoyed having 
been so thoroughly frightened. 

"Oh, come now," he stammered, scarcely knowing what 
he was saying — " oh, come now, I'm not going to believe 
that. Besides, I can give you a case in point. A servant 
was once sent to prison for having stolen a silver dish from 
her master. Two months afterwards, as they were felling a 
tree, the dish was found in a magpie's nest. The thief was 
a magpie. The servant was released immediately. So you 


see that, in the long run, the guilty one will always be 
brought to book." 

Grivet looked round triumphantly. Olivier was on the 
broad grin. 

" Of course," he said, " they locked up the magpie ? " 

" That is not the point of Monsieur Grivet's argument," 
retorted Camille, who objected to his chief being chaffed. 
" Mother, give us the dominoes." 

While Madame Kaquin went to look for the box, the 
young man continued, addressing himself to Michaud : 

" So you confess now — the police is powerless, isn't it ? 
There are murderers walking about in broad daylight ? " 

" Well, I'm afraid there 'are, worse luck ! " answered the 

"I declare," concluded Grivet, "it's positively — im- 
moral 1 " 

During this conversation Therese and Laurent had not 
said a word. They had not even smiled at Grivet's nonsense. 
Both leaning forward on their elbows, both rather pale, they 
were listening with a dull stare. 

Once their eyes met, black and burning like coals. And 
little beads of perspiration appeared at the roots of Therese's 
hair, and Laurent shuddered slightly once or twice as with 
a cold chill. 



Sometimes on Sundays, when the weather was fine, Camille 
would oblige Therese to come out with him for a walk in 
the Champs-Elysees. The young woman would have pre- 
ferred to remain within the damp shade of the shop; it 
tired her, it bored her to be dragged along the streets on her 
husband's arm, while every other shop brought him to a 
standstill, and gave him food for astonishment, or reflection, 
or idiotic contemplation. But Camille would have his way ; 
he liked to show his wife about ; whenever he met any of 
the clerks from the office, particularly any of his superiors, 
he was delighted to be able, in the company of " Madame," 
to exchange a greeting with them. Besides, he was accus- 
tomed to walk for walking's sake, hardly speaking a word, 
stiff and awkward in his Sunday clothes, dragging one foot 
after another, boorish and conceited. Therese suffered greatly 
at being arm-in-arm with such a man. 

On these occasions, Madame Raquin invariably escorted 
her children to the end of the Passage, and kissed them as 
if they were starting on a journey. And then there was 
always a whole series of bits of advice and of earnest en- 

"Above all," she would say, "mind you don't get run 
over. There are so many vehicles in this blessed Paris ! 
Promise me you will keep out of the crowd ! " 

And at last she would let them get away, and stand 
watching them until they turned the corner. Then only 
she -would go back into the shop. Any long walk was out 


of the question for her, as her legs were beginning to fail 

At other times, though not so often, the young couple 
would go further afield; they went to Saint-Ouen or 
Asnieres, and had some fried fish at one of the water-side 
restaurants. These were looked upon as days of reckless 
extravagance, and formed the subject of conversation for a 
whole month beforehand. It was with a better grace, 
almost with pleasure, that Therese would agree to be treated 
to such excursions as these ; for did they not keep her out 
in the fresh air until ten or eleven o'clock at night 1 Saint- 
Ouen, with its green islands, reminded her of Vernon ; it 
roused in her once again the instinctive affection which, as 
a child, she had had for the Seine. She would sit on the 
bank, dipping her hand into the river, and feeling herself 
revive in the heat, of the sun which was tempered by the 
fresh summer breeze. While she was heedlessly soiling and 
tearing her dress upon the stones and the wet earth, Camille 
would spread out his pocket-handkerchief neatly, and squat 
down at her side with infinite precaution. Latterly they 
almost always took Laurent with them; and, with his 
laughter and boorish strength, he was the life and soul of 
the party. 

One Sunday Camille, Therese and Laurent, started for 
Saint-Ouen after breakfast, at about eleven o'clock. This 
excursion had been planned a long time, and it was to be 
the last of the season. They were getting well into autumn, 
and the evenings were becoming chilly with the approach of 

That morning, however, the sky had lost none of its 
summer blue. It was warm in the sun and pleasant in the 
shade ; and so they decided to take advantage of the last of 
the fine weather. 

The three merry-makers departed in a cab, with the -eld 


lady's doleful warnings and anxious recommendations ringing 
in their ears. They drove across Paris and dismissed the 
cab at the fortifications ; then they made their way to Saint- 
Ouen along the high road. It was twelve o'clock. The 
path was covered with dust and, in the hot glare of the sun, 
dazzled the eyes like the whiteness of snow. The air was 
heavy with heat. Therese, arm-in-arm with Camille, was 
walking along languidly in the shade of her parasol ; while 
he was fanning himself with a huge pocket-handkerchief. 
Behind them came Laurent, whose neck the sun was roast- 
ing without any apparent inconvenience to him; he was 
whistling, kicking aside the stray stones, and now and then 
watching the shapely figure of his mistress with flashing 

When they arrived at Saint-Ouen, their first thought was 
where to find a clump of trees — a grassy carpet spread in the 
shade. They crossed over to an island and entered a coppice. 
The fallen leaves covered the ground with a ruddy mantle 
which crackled under the feet with a dry rustling. The 
trunks of the trees shot up towards the sky, straight and 
serried as the columns in a Gothic cathedral ; their branches 
trailed down almost to the excursionists' heads, whose horizon 
was thus bounded by the bronzed arches of dying leaves, 
and the black or white stems of aspen and oak. It was a 
wild, melancholy spot, a quiet cool glade, and all around 
them they heard the splashing of the Seine. 

Camille had picked out a dry place, and had sat himself 
down, taking great care not to injure the tails of his coat. 
Therese had subsided among the leaves with a great rustling 
of skirts ; she was almost hidden by the folds of her dress 
which were billowing about her, and displaying one of her 
legs as high as the knee. Laurent was admiring it at his 
ease, lying full length on the ground, his chin buried in the 
earth, and listening to his friend who was grumbling at the 


Government for not turning all the islands of the Seine into 
pleasure-gardens, with seats, and gravelled walks, and clipped 
trees, the same as at the Tuileries. 

They remained about three hours in the glade, waiting 
until the heat of the sun should abate a little, when they 
could explore the neighbourhood before dinner. Camille 
talked a good deal about his office ; he told several stupid 
stories ; and then, tired out, he let himself sink back and 
went to sleep, having previously placed his hat over his eyes. 
Long before this Th^rese, with closed lids, was pretending 
to doze. 

Then Laurent wriggled himself gently up to the young 
woman ; and, putting forth his lips, kissed her boot and her 
ankle. And this leather, this white stocking that he was 
kissing, seemed to burn his mouth. The sharp odours of the 
earth, the light perfumes clinging to The'rese mingled to- 
gether and penetrated him, heating his blood, and irritating 
his nerves. For a whole month he had been living in a state 
of fuming celibacy. The walk in the sun, along the high 
road to Saint-Ouen, had kindled a fire within him. Now he 
was there, in the depths of an unfrequented retreat, sur- 
rounded by the great voluptuousness of shade and silence, 
and yet he was unable to clasp to his breast this woman who 
belonged to him ! Perhaps her husband would awake, would 
see him, would upset all his astute calculations. This man 
was always in the way. And the lover, still stretched at 
full length, hidden behind the skirts, quivering and irritated, 
pressed silent kisses upon the boot and the white stocking. 
Therese never moved ; she might have been dead. Laurent 
thought she really was asleep. 

He rose, aching in every limb, and leant against a tree. 
Then he saw that the young woman's great eyes were wide 
open, glittering, and fixed on vacancy. Her face, resting 
between her two arms bent back under her head, was white 


with a dull pallor, and rigid as marble. Therese was deep 
in thought. Her glassy eyes were like some fathomless 
abyss where nothing but blackest night was to be seen. 
She never moved, she never gave a glance at Laurent stand- 
ing behind her. 

Her lover gazed upon her, almost alarmed at seeing her 
so motionless and so silent beneath his caresses. That 
white, lifeless face, buried in the folds of the skirts, filled 
him with a sort of terror for all the passion it aroused. He 
would have liked to bend forward, and close those great 
wakeful eyes with a kiss. But Camille was asleep there, 
almost in the skirts also. The poor creature, in an uneasy 
attitude which brought out all his bodily defects, was snor- 
ing a little ; under the hat, which half covered his face, you 
could see his open mouth distorted by some dream into a 
ridiculous grimace ; a few red hairs, scantily sprinkled over 
his weak chin, gave a dirtier hue to his sallow face, and, as 
his head was well thrown back, his thin wrinkled neck was 
in full view, with a prominent and ruddy Adam's apple which 
heaved at every snore. Camille's appearance as he lay 
wallowing there was ignoble and irritating. 

Laurent, who was looking at him, raised his heel with a 
sudden impulse. He was about to smash in that face at one 

Therese repressed a scream. She turned still paler, and 
shut her eyes. She averted her head, as though to avoid 
being splashed with the blood. 

And, during some moments, Laurent kept his heel raised 
over the face of sleeping Camille. Then slowly he put his 
foot to the ground and moved a few yards away. He had 
j ust decided that such a murder would be the act of an idiot. 
That battered head would put the police on his track at 
once. His only reason for wanting to get rid of Camille was 
to marry Therese ; and he intended to live openly after the 


murder like the man who killed the waggoner in Michaud's 

He went as far as the waterside, and watched the river 
flowing past with a dazed look. Then suddenly he returned 
into the coppice ; he had at last decided on a plan ; he had 
invented an easy murder, and one without danger to him- 

Then he awoke the sleeper by tickling his nose with a 
straw. Camille sneezed, got up, and vowed it was awfully 
funny. He liked Laurent's practical jokes, they made him 
laugh so. Then he shook his wife, who was keeping her eyes 
shut ; and when Therese had roused herself, and shaken out 
her skirts, which were tumbled and covered with dry leaves, 
the three excursionists emerged from the glade, breaking 
the little branches before them. They left the island, and 
wandered along the roads and lanes full of holiday folk. 
Girls in light dresses were chasing each other along the 
hedges ; a troop of rowing men passed by singing ; crowds 
of happy couples, of old people, and of clerks with their 
wives, were strolling along by the flower-dotted ditches. 
Every road was like a thickly-populated and noisy street. 
The sun's was the only face that maintained its composure ; 
it was sinking towards the horizon and shedding upon the 
ruddy trees and the white highways a flood of pallid light. 
From the quivering heavens a cool penetrating air was be- 
ginning to descend. 

Camille was no longer walking arm-in-arm with Therese ; 
he was talking to Laurent, laughing at his friend's jokes and 
feats of strength, such as leaping ditches and lifting heavy 
stones. The young woman, on the other side of the road, 
was plodding on, with her head bent forward, sometimes 
stooping to pick a flower. Whenever she dropped behind 
she would stop and take a long look at her lover and her 


" I say, aren't you hungry?" cried Camille to her at last. 

" Yes," she replied. 

" Well, come along, then ! " 

Th^rese was not hungry ; she was only tired and anxious. 
She had no clue to what was passing in Laurent's mind, and 
her legs were trembling under her with apprehension. 

The three excursionists came back to the water-side, and 
looked out for a restaurant. They selected a table on a sort 
of platform-terrace, in an eating-house that reeked of cooking 
and drink. The place re-echoed with screams, with choruses, 
with the rattle of crockery ; in every room, public and 
private, there were people talking at the top of their voice, 
and the thin partitions gave the fullest scope to all this 
noise ; while the waiters running up and down made 
the staircase shake again. 

Up above, on the terrace, the river-breeze dispelled the 
smell of grease. Th^rese was leaning against the balustrade 
and looking down at the quay. To the right and left ex- 
tended two rows of drinking-shops and booths ; under the 
arbours, among the scanty yellow foliage, you could see the 
white tablecloths, the black coats of the men, and the gay 
dresses of the women ; people were coming and going, bare- 
headed, running and laughing ; and with the uproar of the 
crowd were blended the dolorous tunes of the barrel-organs. 
A smell of fried fish and dust pervaded the calm air. 

Below Th^rese, some girls from the Quartier-Latin were 
dancing in a ring on the trodden grass-plot to the words 
of a nursery rhyme. With their hats dangling over their 
shoulders, their hair flying loose, and holding each other by 
the hand, they were playing like little children. Their voices 
seemed to have regained a touch of freshness, and a maidenly 
blush suffused their pale cheeks — which bore the traces of 
brutish caresses — with a tender rose. An unwonted diffi- 
dence softened the fire of their bold, big eyes. Some 


students, smoking clay pipes, were watching them as they 
danced and cracked coarse jokes about them. 

And beyond, over the Seine, over the distant hills, the 
sweetness of eventide was falling in a bluish impalpable mist 
which hung about the trees in a transparent haze. 

" Well ! " cried Laurent leaning over the banisters on the 
staircase, "how about dinner, waiter?" 

And then — as if with a happy thought — he added : 

" I say, Camille, supposing we went for a row before 
dining 1 That will give them time to roast a chicken for 
us. It would be a bore to stop here an hour waiting for it." 

" Just as you please," answered Camille, carelessly. " But 
Therese is hungry." 

" No, no, I can wait," hastily put in the young woman, 
upon whom Laurent was fixing his eyes. 

All three of them went down again. As they passed the 
counter they engaged a table, they ordered the dinner, and 
they left word that they would be back in an hour's time. 
As the landlord had boats to let, they asked him to come 
and unmoor one. Laurent chose an outrigger of such light 
build that Camille took fright. 

" The deuce ! " he said, " we mustn't move about too much 
in that cockle-shell. We should get a soaking." 

The fact was that Camille was awfully afraid of the water. 
At Vernon, when he was a boy, his many ailments prevented 
him from taking a dip in the Seine ; and, .while his school- 
fellows were off for a swim in deep water, he would be get- 
ting between two hot blankets. Laurent had become a bold 
swimmer, and a first-rate oar ; Camille had never lost that 
horror of being out of his depth that is common to women 
and children. He touched the end of the boat with his 
foot as though doubtful of its stability. 

" Come, get in," laughed Laurent. " You are always so 


Camille stepped over the side, and stumblingly went and 
sat down in the stern. When he felt the boards beneath 
him he began to take his ease and to joke to prove his 

Therese had remained on the bank and, grave and motion- 
less, was standing at the side of her lover who was holding 
the painter. He bent towards her and, in low, hurried 
tones : 

" Look out," he murmured, " I'm going to chuck him into 
the water. Do as I tell you. I'll be answerable for every- 

The young woman turned horribly pale. She stood as if 
rooted to the earth. She grew quite stiff, her eyes wide 

" Get into the boat, can't you 1 " repeated Laurent. 

She did not move. A terrible struggle was going on 
within her. She had to exercise all her strength of will in 
order not to burst out crying or swoon away. 

" Ha ! ha ! " laughed Camille. " Why, Laurent, just look 
at Therese ! It's she who's afraid ! She will — she won't ! 
She will— she won't ! " 

He had stretched himself out in the stern-sheets, resting 
his elbows on the gunwale, and was trying to look quite at 
home. Therese gave him a strange glance. This poor 
fellow's giggle stung her like a whip-lash, and drove her to 
desperation. She suddenly sprang into the boat, and sat 
down in the bows. Laurent took the oars, and, rowing 
slowly, made for the islands. 

It was becoming twilight. The trees were casting great 
shadows, and the stream flowed as black as ink against the 
banks. In the middle of the river there were long streaks 
of pale silvery light. Very soon the boat had reached mid- 
channel. There, all the clamour of the quay died away ; the 
choruses and the shouting sounded vague and melancholy, 


full of a languishing sadness. The smell of dust and fried 
fish was no longer perceptible. The night air was chilly ; it 
was getting quite cold. 

Laurent stopped rowing, and allowed the boat to drift 
with the current. 

Opposite him rose the ruddy mass of islands. The two 
banks, clad in sombre brown flaked with grey, seemed like 
two broad belts which stretched and met in the far distance. 
The water and the sky were of the same leaden hue. There 
is nothing more painfully calm than an autumn twilight. 
The sun's rays turn pale in the shivering air ; the senile 
trees shed their leaves about them. Burnt up by the hot 
glare of summer, the whole country side feels the impending 
death of its beauty in every cold wind. And in the breeze 
you can hear piteous sighs of despair. Then night descends 
from on high with its shroud-laden shadow. 

The excursionists spoke never a word. From the drifting 
boat they were watching the last gleams of light vanishing 
among the foliage. They were nearing the islands. The 
big ruddy clumps were darkening ; the whole landscape was 
becoming blurred in the twilight ; the Seine, the sky, the 
islands, the hills, were by this time nothing more than 
patches of brown and grey, last disappearing in the midst of 
a dull white mist. 

Camille, who had subsided in the bottom of the boat, with 
his head craned over the side, fell to dipping his hands in 
the stream. 

" Gad ! it's cold enough ! " he cried ; " I shouldn't care 
about taking a header into that bowl of broth ! " 

Laurent vouchsafed no answer. For the last minute or 
so he had been anxiously scanning the two banks, he was 
gripping his knees with both hands, and his lips were tightly 
compressed. Therese, erect and motionless, her head slightly 
thrown back, was waiting. 


The boat was drifting into a narrow branch of the river 
between two islands, deep in the shadow. Behind one of 
these islands, the voices of some rowing-men who were going 
up the river, resounded through the still air, mellowed by 
their surroundings. As far as one could see ahead, the 
Seine was deserted. 

Then Laurent got up, and twined his arms about Camille's 
waist. The clerk burst out laughing. 

" Oh, don't ! you're tickling me," he cried. " None of 3-our 
larks ! Come, chuck it up ! You'll send me overboard." 

Laurent tightened his grip, and gave a jerk. Camille 
turned his head, and caught sight of his friend's terrible 
features, all convulsed. He could not make it out ; a vague 
terror came over him. He would have screamed, but he 
felt a rough hand at his throat. With the instinct of an 
animal on the defensive, he got on to his knees and clutched 
at the boat's gunwale. In this position, he carried on the 
struggle for a few seconds. 

" Therese ! Therese ! " he screamed at last in a choked 
and hissing voice. 

The young woman was looking on, both hands clutching 
one of the seats of the wherry, which was pitching and creaking 
on the water. She was unable to close her eyes ; a frightful 
fascination kept them wide open, fixed upon the ghastly 
sight of the struggle. She was petrified — speechless. 

" Therese ! Therese ! " again yelled the poor wretch in his 

At this last appeal Therese burst into sobs. Her nerves 
were unstrung. In the presence of the crisis she had been 
dreading, she dropped down into the bottom of the boat, 
trembling in every limb. There she remained in a heap, 
swooned away, like a corpse. 

Laurent was still struggling with Camille, with one hand 
at his throat. At last, he managed to shake loose his hold 


with the help of his other hand. He held him up in his 
powerful arms as he might a child. As he bent his head 
towards him, he exposed his neck, and his victim, mad with 
rage and terror, twisted himself round and fixed his teeth in 
it. And when the murderer, smothering a howl of pain, 
suddenly hurled the clerk into the river, those teeth carried 
away a piece of his flesh between them. 

Camille sank with a yell. He came up two or three 
times ; but his cries grew fainter and fainter. 

Laurent did not lose a moment. He raised the collar of 
his coat to conceal his wound. Then he caught up the un- 
conscious Therese in his arms, capsized the boat with one 
heavy lurch, and let himself fall into the Seine with his mis- 
tress. He held her above water, and called for help with a 
dolorous voice. 

The rowers, whose choruses he had heard from the other 
side of the island, came up at full speed. They understood 
that an accident had happened ; they fished out Therese, 
and laid her on a seat ; they helped in Laurent, who fell to 
bewailing his friend's fate. He leapt back into the water; he 
hunted for Camille wherever it was impossible to find him, he 
got in again, weeping bitterly, wringing his hands, tearing his 
hair. The crew tried to calm him, to comfort him. 

" It's all my fault," he howled ; " I oughtn't to have al- 
lowed the poor fellow to dance about and play the fool like 
that. Of course the minute we all happened to be on one 
side of the boat — over we went ! His last words as he sank 
were, ' Save my wife ! ' " 

As is always the case at any accident, two or three of the 
new-comers would have it that they were eye-witnesses of 
the cocurrence. 

" We saw the whole affair," said they. " What can you ex- 
peot, a boat isn't the floor of a room ! Poor little woman — 
what a terrible awakening she will have ! " 

THfiRfiSE RAQUIlSr. 85 

They took the wherry in tow, made play with their oars, 
and brought Therese and Laurent back to the restaurant, 
where dinner was ready and waiting. Every detail of the 
accident was known in Saint-Ouen within five minutes. The 
salvage crew spoke as though they had been eye-witnesses of 
the whole affair. A sympathizing crowd swarmed outside 
the eating-house. 

The landlord and his wife were a couple of good souls, who 
soon supplied their half-drowned guests with dry clothing. 
When Therese recovered from her swoon, she had an attack 
of hysteria, and burst into agonizing sobs ; they had to put 
her to bed. Nature was assisting the diabolical comedy that 
had just been performed. 

When the young woman had grown calmer, Laurent left 
her in charge of the host. He wanted to get back to Paris 
alone, in order to break the dreadful news to Madame Raquin 
as carefully as possible. The truth of it was that Th&rese's 
nervous state alarmed him. He preferred to give her time 
to think over it all, and to study her rdle. 

Camille's dinner was eaten by the rowing-men. 



In his dark corner of the public conveyance that brought 
him back to Paris, Laurent was able to elaborate his plans. 
He was almost certain of the most absolute impunity. He 
was full of a dark and yet apprehensive feeling of relief — re- 
lief at the successful issue of his crime. When he reached 
the Barriere de Clichy, he called a cab, and told the man to 
drive to old Michaud's place, in the Rue de Seine. It was 
nine o'clock. 

The ex-commissary of police was at dinner with Olivier and 
Suzanne. Laurent's object in driving there was to secure 
the old man's influence in the event of suspicion being 
aroused, and to avoid the disagreeable necessity of having 
himself to break the news to Madame Raquin. Such a task 
would, under the circumstances, be more than usually irk- 
some to him ; he felt sure that the news would plunge her 
into such a depth of despair that perhaps even he might not 
be able to convince her of the sincerity of his regret ; besides, 
although it did not matter much to him after all, the sight 
of a mother's sorrow would be a deuce of a bore. 

When Michaud saw him come in, dressed in common, ill- 
fitting clothes, he looked at him inquiringly. Laurent told 
them all about the accident, in broken accents, and as might 
one utterly wearied out and grief-stricken. 

" I come to you," he concluded, " as I didn't know what 
to do with those two poor women who have been so cruelly 
bereaved. I haven't the courage to see his mother alone. I 
beg you to come with me." 


While he was talking, Olivier was fixing his eyes upon 
him, with a searching look that frightened him out of his 
wits. As a matter of fact, the murderer had ventured to 
put his head into the very jaws of the police with an 
audacity which could not but hold him harmless. But, as 
he felt their eyes upon him, he could not help shuddering ; 
where there was only compassion and horror, he could not 
help seeing suspicion. Suzanne, who looked paler and weak- 
lier than ever, seemed as if she were going to faint. Olivier, 
who dreaded the very idea of death, but who, by-the-way, 
was a most cold-blooded mortal, put on a face of sorrowing 
surprise, although from force of habit he was subjecting 
Laurent to a professional scrutiny, without, however, having 
the least inkling of the black truth. As for old Michaud, he 
gave full vent to all his feelings of astonishment, of pity, 
and of alarm. He could not sit still on his chair ; he could 
do nothing but clasp his hands and raise his eyes to 

" Good God ! " he kept saying in a husky voice. " Good 
God ! what an awful thing ! A man goes out, and he dies 
like that, all on a sudden ! It's simply dreadful. And 
poor Madame Raquin, his mother, how shall we break it to 
her? You certainly could not have done better than to 
come for us. We will go there with you." 

He got up, walked to and fro, hunted all over the room 
for his hat and stick ; and, all the while, he was making 
Laurent repeat every detail of the catastrophe, and stopping 
him every minute with exclamations of horror. 

All four went downstairs. When they got to the Passage 
du Pont-Neuf, Michaud stopped Laurent. 

" Don't you come in," he said ; " your presence alone 
would tell the whole story, and that is exactly what we want 
to avoid. The unhappy mother would at once suspect that 
there was something wrong, and she would compel us to 


bring out the truth sooner than would be good for her. 
Wait for us here.'' 

This was an arrangement which just suited the murderer, 
who shuddered at the bare idea of walking into the shop. 
He regained his coolness, he strolled up and down and made 
his way to and fro without interference. Every now and 
then he forgot what had just happened; he looked into the 
shops, whistled some old tune, or turned round to look after 
the women who passed. And thus he whiled away a good 
half-hour in the street, and gradually recovered his com- 

He had not tasted food since morning ; finding that he 
was hungry, he went into a confectioner's and stuffed him- 
self with cakes. 

In the shop in the Passage, a very painful scene was 
taking place. Notwithstanding old Michaud's precautions, 
and his gentle and friendly words, Madame Eaquin was not 
long in coming to the conclusion that some accident had 
happened to her son. From that moment she insisted upon 
the whole truth with such a deluge of tears, such a succes- 
sion of screams, such a madness of despair, that her old 
friend gave way to her appeal. And when she had heard 
the truth her grief was a very tragedy. Sobbing silently, 
falling back in shudders of horror, in fits of alternate misery 
and affright, she lay there almost choking, screaming out 
ever and anon in the profound agony of her grief. She 
would have flung herself on the floor if Suzanne — who, 
weeping on her knees, was gazing at her with a pale face — 
had not caught her round the waist. Olivier and his father, 
both silent and upset, were still standing, turning away their 
heads from a disagreeable sight which did not in any way 
concern them. 

And the poor mother could see the muddy flood of the 
Seine whirling along her son's stiff and swollen corpse ; she 

TKlilKfcSE RAQtriN. 89 

could remember him a baby in his cradle, when she had to 
stand between him and death. It seemed to her that his 
ailments gave her ten times the privileges of motherhood ; 
her love for him was the result of the thirty years during 
which he had been dependent upon it. And now he had 
died far from her, suddenly, in the cold and filthy water 
like a dog. Then she began to think how warm were the 
blankets in which she used to wrap him. What attentive 
care, what a petted childhood, what fondling and what 
tender affection, all to result in one day seeing him drowned 
miserably. At these thoughts Madame Eaquin felt a chok- 
ing sensation at her throat ; she hoped she was about to die, 
strangled by grief. 

Old Michaud got away as soon as he could. He left 
Suzanne with the old lady, and went, out with Olivier to join 
Laurent in order to get to Saint-Ouen as soon as possible. 

On the road they scarcely exchanged a word. Each of 
them had got into a corner of the cab which was jolting 
them over the pavement. They sat mute and immovable 
in the depths of the shadows which filled the vehicle. And, 
ever and anon, the swift flash of a gas-jet threw a lurid light 
upon their faces. The sad occurrence which had brought 
them together surrounded them with a sort of mournful de- 

When they arrived at last at the water-side restaurant, 
they found Therese in bed, her head and hands on fire. 
The landlord told them in a whisper that the young lady 
was in a high fever. The truth was that Therese, feeling 
weak and cowardly, had made up her mind to feign illness 
lest she should be frightened into confessing the murder. 
She maintained an obstinate silence, kept her lips and her 
eyes close shut, dreading to speak, and refusing to see any 
one. With the sheets drawn up to her chin, her face half 
buried in the pillow, she huddled herself up, anxiously 


listening the while to everything that was said in the room. 
And all the time, in the tawny light that filtered through 
her closed eyelids, she could see the death-struggle between 
Camille and Laurent in the boat ; she could see her hus- 
band's face rising wan, ghastly, and swollen, above the 
turbid waters. And the horrid sight aggravated the fever 
in her blood. 

Old Michaud attempted to speak to her, to console her. 
She only turned her back to him with an impatient gesture 
and fell to sobbing afresh. 

" Best leave her alone, sir,'' said the landlord, " the least 
noise makes her shudder. You see, what she wants is rest." 

Downstairs, in the public room, a police-agent was drawing 
up an official report of the accident. Michaud and his sou 
went down, followed by Laurent. As soon as Olivier had 
introduced himself as one of the chief inspectors at head- 
quarters, the whole affair was at an end in ten minutes. 
The rowing party were still there, describing the disaster in 
its minutest details, illustrating the exact way in which the 
three holiday-makers fell overboard, giving themselves out 
as eye-witnesses. If the least suspicion as to the real state 
of affairs had suggested itself to Olivier and his father, such 
evidence as this would have put it to flight at once. But 
not for a moment had it occurred to them to doubt the truth 
of Laurent's story ; on the contrary, they introduced him to 
the police-agent as the dead man's best friend ; and they 
made a point of his recording the fact that the young fellow 
had dived into the river to save Camille Raquin. The next 
morning the fullest details of the accident appeared in all 
the newspapers ; the unhappy mother, the disconsolate 
widow, the heroic and devoted friend, each formed the sub- 
ject of a paragraph in the thrilling column which went the 
rounds of the Parisian press, and found its way to the front 
page of every provincial organ. 


When the official report had been drawn up, a hot flood 
of relief came to warm Laurent into new life. From the 
moment when he felt his victim's teeth biting into his neck, 
he had been as it were petrified ; he had been doing every- 
thing mechanically, in accordance with the plan he had 
elaborated long before. It was simply the instinct of self- 
preservation that urged him on, that inspired his speech, 
that suggested his gestures of despair. But now, now that 
be was assured of impunity, the blood began to flow in his 
veins as equably and as apathetically as ever. The police 
had been confronted with his crime, and the police had 
failed to recognise it ; he had duped them thoroughly — nay 
more, he had got them to sign his acquittal. He was saved ; 
and, at the thought, a warm thrill of delight ran through 
his whole body, a glow which restored all his vigour of brain 
and of limb. He kept up his part of the distracted friend 
with extraordinary skill and presence of mind. As a matter 
of fact, his satisfaction was wholly animal; his thoughts lay in 
the direction of Ther&se, who was lying asleep in the room 

"We can't leave the poor young thing here," he said to 
Michaud. " A serious illness may be the result of all this, 
and we must positively take her back to Paris. Come, we'll 
manage to persuade her to return with us." 

When they got upstairs, he spoke to Therese himself; 
he entreated her to get up, to let them take her to the 
Passage du Pont-Neuf. When the young woman heard the 
sound of his voice, she started ; she opened her eyes wide, 
and fixed them upon him. She looked at him in stupe- 
faction, trembling all over. She raised herself with some 
difficulty, but in silence. The men went out, leaving her 
alone with the landlord's wife. When she was dressed she 
tottered downstairs and got into the cab, supported by 


The journey was a silent one. Laurent, with an audacity 
only equalled by his coolness, slipped his hand along the 
young woman's skirts and took her fingers in his. He was 
sitting opposite her, in a floating shadow ; he could not see 
her face, which she kept bent on her bosom. When he had 
got hold of her hand, he squeezed it hard and kept it in his 
as far as the Eue Mazarine. He could feel how it trembled ; 
but it was not withdrawn; on the contrary, it now and 
again returned his caresses. And, the one close held in the 
other, the two hands were burning ; the damp palms stuck 
together, and the clinging fingers bruised each other at every 
jolt. To Laurent and Therese, it seemed as if their blood 
was pouring from the one heart into the other through the 
channel of their joined hands ; these hands had become a 
fiery furnace in which their very souls were blazing. In the 
midst of the darkness and the heart-rending silence about 
them, the desperate grip they were exchanging was, as it 
were, a crushing weight cast upon Camille's head to keep 
him under water. 

When the cab stopped, Michaud and his son were the 
first to alight. Laurent bent towards his mistress, and 
whispered in her ear. 

" Be strong, Th6rese," he murmured. "We shall have to 
wait a long while. Kemember ! " 

The young woman had not spoken yet. She opened her 
lips for the first time since her husband's death. 

" Yes, I shall remember," she said, with a shiver and in a 
voice as faint as a breath. 

Olivier was holding out his hand to her, inviting her to 
alight. This time, Laurent ventured to go as far as the 
shop. Madame Eaquin was in bed, and raving in delirium. 
Therese dragged herself up to her room, and Suzanne had 
hardly time to undress her before she was between the 
sheets. Laurent went away, reassured and satisfied that 


everything was going on as well as he could possibly desire. 
He strolled home slowly to his garret in the Kue Saint- 

It was past midnight. A pleasant breeze was sweeping 
the silent and deserted streets. All that the young man 
could hear was the monotonous tramp of his footsteps on 
the flags of the pavement. The refreshing night air filled 
him with well-being ; the silence, the obscurity affected him 
with a pungent sensation of content. He was again a 
lounger at large. 

He had got his crime off his hands at last. He had suc- 
ceeded in killing Camille. That was an accomplished fact 
which could arouse no further comment. He was now going 
to live at his ease while he awaited the most propitious 
opportunity of taking possession of Therese. The thought of 
this murder had sometimes almost choked him ; now that the 
murder had been committed, the weight was off his mind, he 
could breathe freely once more, he was cured of the suffer- 
ings which his vacillation and his cowardice had caused him 
to endure. 

In point of fact, he was a trifle stupefied : his limbs and 
his brain were exhausted with fatigue. He got home at 
last, and fell into a sound sleep. And while he slept his 
face kept twitching with an involuntary contraction of the 



The next morning Laurent woke up fresh and fit ; he had 
slept well. The cold air which came in at the window was 
whipping up his sluggish blood. He had almost forgotten 
the events of the day before ; if it were not for the hot 
smart that was burning at his neck, he could have almost 
brought himself to believe that he had gone to bed at ten 
o'clock, after a quiet evening. Camille's bite felt like the 
mark of a red-hot iron on his skin. When he began to 
think of the pain which this wound was causing him, it 
became a very torture. It seemed to him that a dozen 
needles were being gradually stuck into his flesh. 

He turned down his shirt-collar, and inspected the scar in 
a wretched sixpenny looking-glass that was hanging on the 
wall. The wound was a red hole as big as a penny piece ; 
the skin had been torn away, and the flesh was exposed — 
all pink, and spotted with dark stains ; the stream of blood 
had trickled as far as the shoulder in scattered driblets 
which were scaling off. The deep dull brown of the bite 
stood out distinctly on the white neck ; it was on the right, 
just under the ear. As Laurent was looking at it, with bent 
back and craned neck, the greenish mirror reflected his face 
into a hideous grimace. 

Satisfied with the result of his inspection, he had a good 
wash, and consoled himself with the reflection that the wound 
would heal up in a very few days. Then he dressed, and 
quietly went off to the office, the same as usual. He gave 
an account of the accident with unmistakeable emotion. 


When his colleagues had read the thrilling details which 
were going the round of the press, they made quite a hero 
of him. For a whole week the clerks of the Orleans railway 
could talk of nothing else ; they seemed to consider it a 
subject of legitimate pride that one of their comrades should 
have been drowned. As for Grivet, there was no stopping 
the torrent of his eloquence with regard to the rashness of 
adventuring oneself upon the open Seine, when, if you must 
have a look at the river, it is so easy to take it from the 

Laurent had still, however, one grave source of anxiety 
left. It was, of course, impossible as yet to furnish any 
legal proof of Camille's death. Th^rese's husband was, no 
doubt, as dead as could be ; but his murderer would have 
preferred to have recovered the corpse, so that official con- 
firmation of the decease' might be registered. The day after 
the accident, a fruitless search had been made for the body ; 
the general opinion was that he must have sunk to the 
bottom of some deep hole, under the banks of the islands. 
A host of marauders were already busily dragging the Seine, 
in the hope of securing the reward. 

Laurent made it his business to look in at the Morgue 
every morning, on his way to the office. He had vowed to 
attend to his own affairs himself. Notwithstanding the 
repugnance of the task, and notwithstanding the cold 
shudders that it sent through him at times, he went 
regularly for more than a week to inspect the features of 
all the drowned who lay stretched on the flags. 

Whenever he went in, a faint odour- — a smell of the wash- 
ing of flesh — made him feel sick, and the cold atmosphere 
chilled his blood ; the dampness of the walls seemed to 
penetrate his clothing, and to make it hang heavier about 
his shoulders. He used to go straight to the glass partition 
which separates the spectators from the corpses ; he would 


flatten his pale face against the panes, and gaze in. Before 
him were the rows of grey slabs in a line. Here and there, 
on the slabs, were arranged bodies which looked like stains 
of green or yellow, white or red ; some of them, though 
rigid in death, were not disfigured ; others might have been 
nothing more than bleeding and rotten heaps of carrion. 
At the back, against the wall, a lot of wretched rags were 
hung up — petticoats and trousers, looking hideous against 
the bare plaster. At first Laurent noticed little but the 
paleness of the slabs and walls, stained with red and black 
by the clothes and the corpses. And there was a sound of 
running water. 

But, little by little, he observed the various bodies. Then 
he examined them in rotation. The only remains that in- 
terested him were those of the drowned ; when there were 
several bodies, swollen and blue from long immersion, he 
looked them over eagerly, hoping to recognize Camille. 
Often the flesh was falling from their features in strips; 
the bones had made their way through the sodden skin ; 
the faces looked as if they had been first boiled and then 
boned. Laurent was undecided ; he inspected more closely; 
he did his best to make himself recognize the attenuated 
proportions of his victim. But the drowned cannot help 
being corpulent ; he came across nothing but inflated 
stomachs, swollen thighs, and big bloated arms. He could 
not make sure ; he would stop there shuddering before those 
greenish rags which seemed to be jeering at him with 
horrible grimaces. 

One morning he really was frightened out of his wits. 
For some minutes he had been gazing at the short and 
terribly disfigured body of a drowned man. This one's 
flesh was so battered and sodden that the water, which was 
flowing over, kept removing it in morsels. The jet which 
was directed upon the face had dug itself a hole on the left 


of the nose. And, all of a sudden, the nostrils fell in, the 
lips gave way and showed the white row of teeth. The 
head of this corpse burst into a laugh. 

Every time he fancied he had recognized Camille, Laurent 
felt a burning at the heart. He was eagerly longing to 
recover his victim's body; and yet he trembled in every 
limb when he thought he was at last in presence of it. His 
visits to the Morgue gave him the nightmare, shook him 
with shudders that made him gasp again. He tried hard to 
get rid of these terrors, he called himself a great baby, he 
did his best to pluck up his courage ; but in spite of every- 
thing, from the moment he found himself in the midst of 
the damp air and faint smells of the place, his physical man 
was seized with nausea, and his whole being was filled with 
deep horror and disgust. 

When he came to the last row of slabs without having 
seen any drowned people, he began to breathe again ; his 
repugnance almost vanished. Thus, having become a mere 
idler, he found a strange pleasure at meeting death by vio- 
lence face to face in all its phases of the extraordinary and 
the grotesque. The sight amused him, particularly when he 
beheld the bare breast of a woman. This brutal exhibition 
of dead fellow-creatures, wounded in places and splashed 
with their gore, attracted and fascinated him. Once he saw 
a young woman of twenty, a daughter of the people, tall 
and shapely, who seemed to be only asleep on the slab ; her 
fresh plump body was whitening into an extreme delicacy of 
tint ; she was half-smiling, with her head a little aside, and 
her chest protruding provokingly. One might have taken 
her for a reclining courtesan, had it not been for a black 
line, like a necklace about her throat; it was a girl who had 
just hung herself in despair at being crossed in love. 
Laurent gazed upon her a long time, his eyes lingering upon 
her flesh, absorbed in a kind of timorous desire, 



Every morning while he was there he could hear the hum 
of the crowd as it swarmed in and out, to and fro". 

The Morgue is an exhibition within the reach of every 
purse, and to which the passer-by, rich or poor, can treat 
himself gratuitously. The door is open, enter who will. 
There are even some consciences who go out of their way 
rather than miss one of these illustrations of death. When 
the slabs are empty, people go out much disappointed, and 
grumbling between their teeth as if they had been robbed. 
When the slabs are pretty numerously tenanted, when there 
is a fine show of human flesh, the audience throng on each 
other's heels, give way to a little cheap emotion, exhibit 
their terror or their hilarity, hiss or applaud, just as they 
would at a theatre. Then they retire perfectly satisfied, 
and vowing that the Morgue is quite a success to-day. 

Laurent soon got to know the frequenters of the place, a 
mixed collection of incongruities who had nothing in com- 
mon except their desire to give vent to their feelings of 
compassion or ridicule. Workmen came in on their way to 
work, with their tools and a long loaf under their arms ; 
they looked upon death as something irresistibly comic. 
Among them was to be found an occasional workshop wit, 
who managed to raise a laugh by cracking a joke about the 
ugly faces the corpses were making. Those who had been 
burnt to death he would call charcoal manufacturers. For 
the different fate of each he would extemporise a different 
gibe ; and, amid the shuddering silence of the hall, you 
could hear his husky voice quavering out the catch-words 
and back-slang of the day. Then came the small capitalists, 
thin and mummified old men ; loungers who dropped in out 
of curiosity, and who gaped at the bodies with stupidity in 
their eyes and pouts of peaceful and dainty men on their 
lips. A large proportion of the visitors were women ; there 
were pink-faced young work-girls, with their white linen 

THfeltiSE RAQUIN. 99 

and clean skirts, who trotted lightly from one end of the 
partition to the other, opening their big attentive eyes as if 
they were taking stock of the show in a milliner's window ; 
there were, besides, women of the lower class, staring 
foolishly at the sights and talking about it in a dolorous 
whine ; and again, some well-dressed ladies, sweeping the 
floor apathetically with their silk trains. 

One day Laurent noticed one of the latter, who was stand- 
ing a yard or so from the partition, and pressing a cambric 
handkerchief to her nostrils. She was wearing a charming 
grey silk skirt, under a voluminous mantle of black lace ; a 
small veil concealed her features, and her gloved hands 
looked very tiny and very dainty. She exhaled a delicious 
perfume of violets. She was looking at a corpse. On a 
slab, a few paces off, was stretched the body of a strapping 
young fellow, a mason who had just fallen from a scaffold 
and been killed on the spot. He had a mighty chest, short 
and powerful muscles, a white and smooth skin ; death had 
turned him into marble. The lady was inspecting him, 
analyzing him — weighing him, as it were — with her glance, 
absorbing herself in the contemplation of this man. She 
lifted a corner of her veil, took a last look, and disappeared. 

Now and then a troop of boys would arrive, children from 
twelve to fifteen years of age, and rush up and down the 
partition, only stopping before the female corpses. They 
rested their hands on the panes, and feasted their insolent 
gaze upon the bare bosoms. They kept jogging each other 
with their elbows and passing brutal remarks ; they learnt 
vice even at the school of death. It's at the Morgue that 
young street Arabs possess their first mistress. 

At the end of a week, Laurent was thoroughly sick of it. 
At night he dreamed of the corpses he had seen in the morn- 
ing. This torture, added to the daily disgust he was forc- 
ing himself to endure, ended by so upsetting him that he 

100 therese raquin. 

made up his mind to release himself from his task after two 
visits more. The next day, as he was walking into the 
Morgue, he received a blow full in the face ; just opposite 
him, on a slab, Camille, with raised head and eyes half open, 
was lying on his back, and looking at him ! 

The murderer went up to the partition slowly, as though 
fascinated and without being able to take his eyes off his 
victim. He was not much agitated, however ; he was only 
feeling a strange chill in his vitals and a slight prickling of 
the skin. He had expected to be ever so much more 
frightened. For five long minutes he stood motionless, 
lost in an unconscious reverie, and, despite himself, engrav- 
ing upon his memory every horrid line, every filthy colour 
of the picture before him. 

Camille presented an ignoble appearance, indeed. He 
had been a whole fortnight in the water. His face was 
seemingly still firm and rigid ; the features were not much 
altered, the skin only had assumed a muddy yellowish hue. 
The thin, bony, slightly tumefied head was grotesquely 
grimacing ; it was a little bent forward, with the hair stick- 
ing to the temples, the eyelids raised, showing the pale ball 
of the eye ; the lips were distorted, drawn to one corner of 
the mouth, and were set in an awful grin ; a bit of blackish 
tongue peeped through the whiteness of the teeth. That 
head, looking tanned and wizened, was all the more fearful 
to the horror-struck observer in that it still presented some 
resemblance to life. The body seemed to be no mors than 
a heap of decomposed flesh ; it had been shockingly knocked 
about. One could see that the arms only hung by a thread; 
the collar-bones were coming through the skin of the 
shoulders. About the greenish breast the ribs traced their 
black outline. The left side had burst open, and revealed a 
deep gap hung about with ribbons of flesh of a dull red. 
The whole trunk was a mass of corruption. The legs, not 

THfiRilSE RAQUIN. 101 

so far gone, were stretched out at full length, and dis- 
coloured with foul stains. The feet were falling to pieces. 

Laurent looked at Camille. None of the drowned he had 
as yet seen was one-half so ghastly an object. Besides, this 
corpse looked so mean, so thin, and so poor a thing ; it was 
rotting into nothingness ; the heap that it made was such a 
little one. Any one would have guessed at once that there 
lay a clerk at twelve hundred francs a year, a stupid and 
sickly creature, brought up by its mother on diet drinks. 
That wretched body, which had grown up between hot 
blankets, was now shivering on the cold slab. 

When Laurent was able at last to get the better of the 
poignant curiosity which had kept him there motionless and 
open-mouthed, he went out and fell to walking smartly along 
the quay. And, as he walked, he said to himself over and 
over again : " That is what I have done with him. He is 
vile.'' It seemed to him that an acrid smell was dogging 
his steps, the odour that the body must be exhaling in its 

He went to call upon old Michaud, and to tell him that 
he had just recognised Camille on one of the slabs at the 
Morgue. Every formality was soon complied with ; the 
drowned man was buried ; his death was duly registered. 
Laurent, easy at last, applied himself with delight to the 
task of forgetting his crime and the sad and tiresome scenes 
which the murder had brought in its train. 



The shop in the Passage du Pont-Neuf remained closed for 
three whole days. When it was opened again, it looked 
even darker and damper than before. The stock-in-trade 
was yellow with dust, and seemed to be sharing the mourn- 
ing of the household ; in the dirty windows everthing was 
at sixes and sevens. Behind the linen caps hung up on the 
rusty rods the pallor of Therese's face loomed more dead, 
more earthy than ever, and her impassibility was of an ill- 
omened import. 

In the Passage all the gossips were lamenting aloud. The 
dealer in imitation jewellery pointed out to each of her 
customers the emaciated profile of the young widow as an 
interesting and a pitiful curiosity. 

For three days Madame Raquin and The'rese had stayed 
in bed without exchanging a word, without even seeing each 
other. The old lady, sitting straight up against the pillows, 
was staring into vacancy with the eyes of an idiot. The 
death of her son had struck her the same as a heavy blow 
on the head, and she had fallen beneath it like a log. She 
would remain quiet and apathetic for whole hours, absorbed 
in the depths of her unavailing despair ; then sometimes she 
would have a sudden fit of weeping, of screaming, or of de- 
lirium. Therese, in the next room, seemed to be asleep ; 
she had turned her face to the wall, and pulled the counter- 
pane over her eyes ; and so she remained as if laid out, rigid 
and silent, without moving the sheets which covered her by 
so much as a single sob. One would have thought she was 


trying in the shadow of the alcove to hide recollections which 
were petrifying her. Suzanne, who was watching the two 
women, went feebly from the one to the other, treading as 
lightly as possible, craning her wax-like face over the two 
beds in turn, without however prevailing upon Therese to 
look round — she only got gestures of roughest impatience 
in reply — not being able to console Madame Raquin, whose 
tears began to flow directly any voice roused her from her 

The third day The'rese threw off the counterpane and 
sat up quickly in the bed, with a sort of feverish decision. 
She pushed back the hair from her forehead, and, pressing 
her hands to it, she remained so a moment, holding each 
temple tight, her eyes fixed, still deep in thought. Then 
she jumped on to the carpet. Her limbs were trembling, 
and reddened with fever; great livid patches stained her 
skin, which was shrivelled in places as if there were not 
enough flesh underneath. She looked like an old woman. 

Suzanne, who was just coming in, seemed quite surprised 
to find her up ; she advised her, in a placid drawl, to get 
back into bed, to rest herself a little longer. Therese was 
not listening to her ; she was hunting for her clothes and put- 
ting them on in trembling haste. When she was fully dressed 
she went to look at herself in a glass, and passed her hand 
over her face as though she were wiping off something ; then 
without saying a word, she crossed the dining-room with a 
quick step, and went in to Madame Raquin. 

The old tradeswoman was in a quiet interval of stupe- 
faction. When Therese came in she turned her head and 
followed the young widow with her eyes, as, in silence and 
dejection, the latter came to stand in front of her. The two 
women watched each other for some seconds, the niece with 
increasing apprehension, the aunt with a painful effort of 
memory. Remembering at last, however, and holding forth 

104 th£r£se raquin. 

her trembling arms, Madame Eaquin threw them about 
Thdrese's neck and exclaimed : 

" My poor boy ! my poor Camille ! " 

She was weeping, and her tears were evaporating upon 
the burning skin of the widow, who was hiding her dry 
eyes in the folds of the sheet. Therese maintained her 
prone position, and let the old mother cry out her fill. Ever 
since the murder she had dreaded this first interview ; she 
had kept her bed in order to put it off as long as possible, 
and to study at her ease the terrible part she had to 

When she found that Madame Eaquin was calming down, 
she began to busy herself about her ; she advised her to get 
up, to go down to the shop. The old woman had almost 
fallen into second childhood. The unexpected apparition of 
her niece had brought about a favourable crisis, which had 
just restored to her her memory and the power of recognising 
surrounding objects and people. She thanked Suzanne for 
the care she had taken of her ; she conversed, very weak, 
but no longer delirious, full of a grief which at times 
almost choked her. She kept watching Therese moving 
about, with sudden tears ; and then she would call her 
to her, kiss her with more sobbing, and tell her in a 
choking voice that now she had nothing left in the world 
but her. 

That evening she consented to get up, to try to eat. It 
was then that Therese was able to gauge the full force of 
the blow which her aunt had received. The poor old 
woman's legs had become dead weights. She could not get 
into the dining-room without the help of a stick, and even 
then the walls seemed to be turning round her. 

But, from the morrow, she insisted on the shop being 
opened. She was afraid of going mad if she remained alone 
in her room. She came heavily down the wooden stairs, 

THfiKfcSE RAQUIN. 105 

resting both feet on each step, and took her usual place be- 
hind the counter. From that day forward she was a fixture 
there in her placid grief. 

At her side Therese was thinking and waiting. The shop 
resumed its sombre appearance of tranquillity. 



Lauebnt came to see them sometimes in the evening, once 
in two or three days. He would stay in the shop and talk 
to Madame Raquin for half an hour. Then he would take 
his departure, without ever having looked Therese straight 
in the face. The old tradeswoman looked upon him as her 
niece's saviour, as a noble character who had done all in his 
power to give her hack her son. She always received him 
with a tearful kindness. 

One Thursday evening, when Laurent was there, old 
Michaud and Grivet came in. It was just eight o'clock. 
The clerk and the ex-commissary had each, on his side, 
judged the occasion propitious for the resumption of their 
beloved habits, without seeming too importunate ; and so 
they both arrived at the same moment, as though impelled 
by the same machinery. Behind them, Olivier and Suzanne 
made their appearance. 

They were invited up to the dining-room. Madame 
Raquin, who was not expecting anybody, made haste to 
light the lamp and to make tea. When everybody was 
seated round the table, each before his cup, and when the 
domino-box had been emptied, the poor mother, suddenly 
reminded of the past, looked at her guests, and burst into 
tears. There was one empty place — her son's. 

Such despair was chilling and tiresome to the company. 
All their faces had put on an air of selfish beatitude. These 
people found themselves ill at ease, they who had not the 
least present memory of Camille in their hearts. 

" Come, dear lady," cried old Michaud, rather impatiently, 


" you must really not give way like that. You will make 
yourself ill." 

"We are all mortal," asserted Grivet. 

" Your weeping can't possibly give you back your son," 
said Olivier, sententiously. ' 

"Ah, madame," murmured Suzanne, "pray don't make 
us all wretched ! " 

And as Madame Raquin, who could not check her tears, 
was sobbing all the faster : 

" Come, come," resumed Michaud, " a little courage, now ! 
Don't you understand that we have come here on purpose to 
change the current of your thoughts? Hang it all ! don't 
let us make ourselves miserable ; we must try to forget ! 
Let's see, we'll play for two sous the game. What do you 
say to that 1 " 

With a supremo effort, the old lady stifled her tears. 
Perhaps she noticed her guests' happy selfishness. She 
wiped her eyes, though still quite upset. In her poor old 
hands the dominoes were rattling, and the tears about her 
eyelashes darkened her sight. 

They began to play. 

Laurent and Th^rese had been observing this short scene 
with a grave and impassive air. The young man was de- 
lighted that the Thursday evenings had been resumed. He 
had been eagerly longing for. them, knowing that these 
gatherings would be necessary for the attainment of his ob- 
ject. Then, without asking himself why, he felt more at 
his ease in the midst of these few people whom he knew, he 
dared look Therese in the face. 

The young woman, dressed in black, pale and thoughtful, 
seemed that night to possess a beauty he had not before 
observed. He was glad to be able to meet her eyes, and to 
feel them fixed upon his with such courageous self-posses- 
sion. Therese still belonged to him — body and soul ! 



Fifteen months passed by. The first bitterness of death 
was softened ; every day brought with it more peace of 
mind, a deeper apathy ; the dull routine was resumed again 
with weary langour, with the stupefied monotony that a 
great crisis leaves in its train. And, at first, Laurent and 
Therese let themselves drift with the current of the new 
life which was effecting a transformation in them ; a latent 
force was at work in them, all the various phases of which 
it would require the most delicate analysis to trace. 

Laurent soon began to appear at the shop every evening, 
as of old. But he no longer dined there ; he never spent 
whole evenings there now. He would arrive at half-past 
nine, and go away after having shut up the shop. He al- 
most seemed to be fulfilling a duty in placing himself at 
the service of the two women. If one day he happened to 
neglect his task, he would apologize on the morrow for his 
defection with the most abject humility. On Thursdays he 
helped Madame Eaquin to light the fire ; to do the honours 
of the house. The old lady was charmed with his unobtru- 
sive attentions. 

Therese looked on with equanimity as he hovered about 
her. Her extreme pallor had disappeared ; she seemed 
better in health, more inclined to smile, more gentle. Very 
rarely did her lips contract with a nervous twitch and reveal 
the two deep lines of care that imparted such a strange ex- 
pression of anguish and affright to her face. 

The two lovers no longer sought opportunities to meet in 


private. They never made an appointment with each other ; 
they never so much as exchanged a furtive kiss. The murder 
had, as it were, allayed their voluptuous fever of the senses ; 
in tilling Camille, they had succeeded in satisfying the fiery 
and unbridled passions which they had been unable to satiate 
in each other's arms. The crime seemed to them a pungent 
luxury which had spoiled their taste for the cloying sweetness 
of their former caresses. 

It would, however, have been perfectly easy for them to 
lead the life of free love for which they had craved so 
ferociously as to commit a murder to attain it. Madame 
Raquin, in her impotent and benumbed condition, was no 
obstacle. The house belonged to them ; they could go out, 
wander as far as they liked. But love was no longer a 
temptation to them ; they had lost all appetite for it. 
They stopped where they were, in calm conversation, looking 
at each other without a blush and without a thrill ; and 
they seemed to have forgotten the mad embraces which had 
bruised their flesh and caused their bones to creak. They 
even went so far as to avoid being alone together ; they 
could find nothing to say to each other in private, and they 
were both afraid of treating the other too coldly. When 
they had to shake hands, the contact of their skin made 
them uncomfortable. 

Besides, they each thought they had found an explanation 
for their indifference and nervousness in each other's presence. 
They put down their cold demeanour to the score of prudential 
motives. According to them, their calmness, their abstin- 
ence, were proofs of the highest wisdom. They persuaded 
themselves that this lull of the passion, this slumber of the 
heart, were in obedience to an effort of their will. Again, 
they considered that the repugnance and uneasiness which 
they were experiencing could be nothing more than the con- 
sequence of the shock and a latent fear of retribution. Some- 


times, they would force themselves into hope ; they would 
woo once again the burning dreams of the past ; and when 
they found that their imagination was a void, they were 
struck with astonishment. Then they would buoy them- 
selves up with the thought of their approaching marriage. 
Surely, when they had attained their object, when all their 
terrors had vanished, when they legally belonged to each 
other, their passion would return in full force, they would 
enjoy the delights of which they had so often dreamt. This 
hope calmed them down, and saved them from sinking to 
the bottom of the chaos which was forming within them. 
They persuaded themselves that their love was as ardent as 
of old ; they were awaiting the hour which, in uniting them 
for ever, was to give them a happiness without alloy. 

Therese had never been so calm in mind. She was cer- 
tainly becoming a better woman. All the sternness of her 
volition seemed to be relaxing. 

Alone in her bed at night, she felt happy. She had to 
endure no longer at her side Camille's thin face and puny 
body that used to so exasperate her flesh and fill her with 
unsatisfied desires. She fancied she was a little girl again, 
a maiden between the white curtains, at peace in the dark 
silence. Her room, which was spacious and rather cold, 
was to her taste, with its lofty ceilings, its gloomy corners, 
and its monastic odour. She even came to take a fancy to 
the high black wall which rose over against the window. 
Every evening during a whole summer she passed long 
hours, looking at the grey stones of that wall, and the 
narrow patches of starry sky between the chimney-pots and 
the roofs. She never ga^e a thought to Laurent., except 
when some nightmare woke her up with a start ; and then, 
sitting up in the bed, trembling, her eyes dilated, huddling 
herself up in her chemise, she would tell herself that she 
would not be exposed to these sudden alarms if she had a 


man beside her. She thought of her lover then, as she -would 
of a dog who could protect and watch over her. There was 
not a single thrill of desire in her cool and equable tem- 

In the day-time when she was in the shop, she would 
take an interest in the outer world. She would wake up 
now that she was no longer living in a state of secret rebel- 
lion and feeding upon thoughts of hatred and revenge. It 
bored her now to sit musing ; she felt a longing for occupa- 
tion and movement. From morning to night she watched 
the people who walked through the Passage. The noise, 
the hurry to and fro, amused her. She was becoming 
curious, and a chatterbox — in a word, a woman — for until 
then she had acted and thought as would a man. 

She espied one day from her post of observation a young 
man, a student, who lived in furnished apartments close by, 
and who passed the shop several times a day. This per- 
sonage was pale and handsome, with the long hair of a poet 
and the moustaches of an officer. Therese decided that he 
was very distinguished-looking. Like any school-girl, she 
fell in love with him — for a week. She took to reading 
novels ; she compared the young man to Laurent ; and 
very ponderous, very thick-set did Laurent appear to her. 
Her course of reading opened out horizons of romance of 
which as yet she had not even heard. She had only loved 
with her flesh and her nerves, now she began to love with 
her brain. And then one day the student disappeared ; no 
doubt he had moved to another neighbourhood. In a few 
hours The'rese had forgotten him. 

She took out a subscription to a circulating library, and 
proceeded to fall in love with the heroes of all the novels 
she devoured. This new-born passion for reading produced 
a great effect upon her temperament She became so 
nervously sensitive that she would laugh or cry without the 

112 THtiRfcSE EAQUIN. 

slightest reason. The even balance into which her mind 
had seemed to be settling was roughly shaken. She fell 
into a sort of vague reverie. Now and then a recollection 
of Camille gave her a shock, and her thoughts would turn 
to Laurent with a fresh longing, full of alarm and mistrust. 
She was thus delivered into the hands of her old tortures 
once again. Now she would seek for the means of marry- 
ing her lover without delay ; now she would contrive a plan 
for escaping from him never to see him more. The high- 
flown language of the novels about honour and chastity in- 
terposed a sort of obstacle between her volition and her 
instincts. She remained the same indomitable animal that 
had conceived a struggle with the Seine, and had thrown 
itself headlong into adultery ; but she began to understand 
the existence of goodness and gentleness, to account for the 
sad face and despairing mien of Olivier's wife, and to know 
that a woman need not murder her husband and yet be 
happy. Then she almost became doubtful of her own 
identity, and lived in a state of the most wretched un- 

On his side Laurent passed through several different 
phases of alternate fever and tranquillity. At first he re- 
mained in the enjoyment of the most absolute peace of 
mind; he felt as it were relieved of an enormous burden. 
Sometimes it would all seem to him nothing more than a 
nightmare ; he would question himself in his astonishment ; 
he would ask himself if it were really true that he had 
thrown Camille into the water, and had really seen his 
corpse on the slabs of the Morgue. The recollection of his 
crime surprised him strangely; never would he have deemed 
himself capable of committing murder; all that was prudent, 
all that was cowardly in his composition shuddered, and 
cold sweats rose on his brow when he thought that his 
crime might have been discovered — might have brought 

THtiRftSE RAQUIN. 113 

him to the guillotine. At such moments he could feel the 
sharp chill of the knife at his neck. As long as there was 
need for action he had gone straight ahead with an obsti- 
nacy and a blindness that was purely animal. Now that 
he was looking back and could see the abyss which he had 
just crossed, he was seized with a vertigo of terror. 

" Certainly I must have been drunk," he thought j " that 
woman had intoxicated me with her caresses. Good Lord ! 
what a fool and ass I was ! I was risking the guillotine on 
a job like that. Well, all's well that ends well. But if it 
had to be done over again, I wouldn't touch it ! " 

Laurent collapsed, ran to seed, became more prudent and 
more cowardly than ever. He grew fat and flabby. No 
one who made a study of this unwieldy, piled-up carcase, 
that seemed to contain neither bones nor nerves, would ever 
have dreamt of suspecting it of any inclination either to 
cruelty or to violence. 

He resumed his old habits. For several months he was 
a model clerk, performing his duties with the most exemp- 
lary callousness. In the evening he dined at a cheap 
eating-house in the Hue Saint-Victor, cutting up his bread 
into thin slices, masticating slowly, dragging out his meal as 
long as possible ; then he stretched himself out, leant 
against the wall, and smoked his pipe. Tou would have 
taken him for some fat old family-man. During the day he 
thought simply about nothing at all ; at night his sleep was 
heavy and dreamless. With his fat, rosy face, his well-lined 
stomach, and his empty brain, he was happy. 

His passions seemed to be dead ; the memory of Therese 
was growing dim. He sometimes thought about her as one 
does of the woman one is to marry some day in the 
indefinite future. He was patiently awaiting the nuptial 
hour, forgetful of the woman, dreaming only of the altered 
position it would give him. He would give up the office ; 



he would do some painting for amusement ; he would 
lounge away the time. Such hopes as these induced him to 
return every evening to the shop in the Passage, notwith- 
standing the vague uneasiness which he felt whenever he 
went in. 

One Sunday he felt bored, and did not know what to do 
with himself, so he went to see his old school friend, the 
young painter, with whom he had shared lodgings so long. 
The artist was working at a picture which he intended to 
s end to the Salon, and of which the subject was a nude 
Bacchante lying full length on a strip of drapery. At the 
end of the studio a model, a woman, was lying down, her 
head leant back, her body twisted, her hip raised. Every 
now and then this woman broke into merry laughter, ex- 
panding her chest, thrusting out her arms, and stretching 
herself, as her position was somewhat cramped. Laurent, 
who was sitting opposite her, kept his eyes fixed on her as 
he smoked and talked to his friend. His blood throbbed in 
his veins, his nerves were irritated by this contemplation. 
He remained until nightfall, and then took the woman home 
with him. He kept her as his mistress for nearly a year. 
He seemed a handsome fellow enough to the poor girl, and 
she fell in love with him. In the morning she used to go 
out and pose to artists all day, and every evening she came 
back to Laurent regularly at the same time. She fed, 
dressed, and kept herself with the money that she earned, 
thus not costing a sou to Laurent, who indeed cared nothing 
as to whence she came or what she had been doing. This 
woman became a sort of additional ballast to his existence ; 
he accepted her as a necessary and useful adjunct, which 
maintained his body in peace and health. He never knew 
whether he loved her or not, and it never came into his 
head that he was unfaithful to Therese. He was getting 
fatter and jollier than ever — that was all. 


Meanwhile, Therese's mourning had come to an end. 
The young woman now wore coloured dresses, and it came 
to pass that one evening she seemed to Laurent decidedly 
younger and better looking than of old. But he still ex- 
perienced a certain uneasiness in her presence. For some 
time past she seemed to him to be feverish, full of strange 
caprices, ready to laugh or to cry without reason. The 
indecision which he noticed' in her frightened him, for he 
could partly guess at her struggles and her troubles. He 
began to hesitate, as he was dreadfully afraid of risking his 
peace of mind. For his part, he was living a quiet life 
which amply satisfied his every appetite, and he was afraid 
to imperil the equable tenor of his existence in binding him- 
self to a nervous creature who had already maddened him 
with her passions. Besides, there was no need to analyse 
matters. He felt instinctively that possession of Therese 
would carry with it a world of trouble for him. 

The first shock which came to shake him out of his apathy 
was the thought that the time had now arrived to com- 
mence preparations for marriage. Fifteen months had now 
elapsed since Camille's death. For a moment it occurred 
. to Laurent that he need not marry at all, that he could 
leave Therese in the lurch, and keep on the model, whose 
compliant and inexpensive affection was all-sufficient for 
him. Then he reminded himself that he could not have 
killed a man for nothing. When he recalled to mind the 
crime, and the terrible ordeal he had gone through for the 
sole possession of the woman who was now disquieting him, 
he felt that the murder would become a thing useless and 
atrocious if he did not marry her. To throw a man into the 
river, ^o rob him of his widow, to wait fifteen months, and 
then to make up his mind to be content with a girl who 
exhibited herself in every studio, seemed to him a very 
ridiculous idea, and made him laugh. Besides, was he not 


bound to Therese by a bond of blood and of horror 1 He 
could almost feel her clamouring and writhing within him ; 
he belonged to her. He was afraid of his accomplice. 
Perhaps, if he did not marry her, she would go and confess 
everything to the police out of revenge and jealousy. 
These thoughts chased each other through his brain. The 
fever was consuming him again. 

About this time, the model left him abruptly. One Sun- 
day, the girl did not come home ; no doubt she had found a 
warmer and a more comfortable lodging. Laurent was but 
moderately put out ; the only thing was, he had got accus- 
tomed to having a woman beside him at night, and her ab- 
sence produced a sort of sudden void in his existence. After 
about a week he felt he could not stand it any longer. He 
began once more to pass whole evenings at the shop in the 
Passage ; and he was soon looking at Therese as of old, with 
eyes that flashed an intermittent fire. The young woman, 
who generally had come to the end of a long spell of reading 
in a thrill of excitement, would sigh as she yielded herself 
to the fascination of his gaze. 

They had thus both fallen back into a distracted and 
voluptuous frame of mind, after a long year of apathetic and 
dispirited patience. One evening Laurent, who was shutting 
up the shop, detained Therese in the Passage for a moment. 

" Shall I come up to your room to-night?" he asked, in an 
ardent tone of voice. 

The young woman made a terrified gesture. 

" No, no, let us wait," said she, :< let us be prudent." 

"I've waited long enough, I think," returned Laurent; "I'm 
sick of it. I want you ! " 

Therese looked at him in great agitation, her face and her 
hands were burning hot. She seemed to hesitate ; then she 
said abruptly : 

" Let us get married ! I shall be all jours then." 



Laurent left the Passage in a highly-strung state of nervous 
commotion. Th&ese's agitation and abrupt consent had 
again roused all his former longings. He decided to go 
home by the quays, and walked along with his hat in his 
hand in order to cool his face with all the breeze that was 

When lie reached the Rue Saint- Victor, and the door of 
the house where he lived, he was afraid to go in, to find him- 
self alone. Some childish apprehension, as inexplicable as 
it was unexpected, made him tremble lest he should discover 
a man hidden in his garret. Never before had he given 
way to such fits of cowardice. He did not even try to ex- 
plain to himself the strange shudder which had come upon 
him j he hurried into a wine-shop and stopped there an hour, 
until midnight, sitting speechless and motionless at a table, 
and mechanically draining bumper after bumper of wine. 
He was thinking about Therese ; he was angry with the 
young woman for not having chosen to admit him to her 
room at once, for he felt sure that he would not have had 
this fright if he had been in her company. 

Closing-time came, and he was put out with the rest of 
the customers. He went in again, however, to ask for some 
matches; the porter's lodge at his place was on the first floor, 
and before being able to get his candle, there was a long 
alley to traverse and several steps to climb. The thought 
of this alley and this bit of staircase, both terribly dark, 
frightened him out of his wits. Generally, he could tread 

118 THJiRfiSE EAQUItt. 

that darkness boldly enough. But that evening he did not 
dare to ring the bell ; he fancied that, in a certain recess 
by the cellar entrance, there might be some ruffians lying in 
wait to spring at his throat suddenly as he passed. At last, 
he rang, lighted a match, and made a determined plunge 
into the alley. The match went out. He stood there quite 
still, panting, without even the pluck to run away, rubbing 
matches against the damp wall with a hand trembling with 
anxiety. He conjured up the sound of voices and foot- 
steps ahead of him. The matches kept breaking in his 
fingers. At last he succeeded in getting one alight. The 
sulphur began to bubble, to fire the wood so slowly that it 
redoubled Laurent's terrors; the pale and bluish glare of the 
sulphur, with its wavering gleam, revealed to his imagination 
all sorts of monstrosities. Then the wood crackled, the 
light became white and clear. Laurent, somewhat com- 
forted, stepped on with precaution, taking care not to let 
out his light. When he had to pass the cellar, he hugged 
the opposite wall; there was a deep shadow there that 
frightened him. He then rushed up the few steps that led 
to the porter's lodge, and only thought himself safe when he 
had got hold of his candle. He went up the other flights 
more quietly, with his candle at arm's length, and ex- 
ploring all the corners he had to pass. The great fantastic 
shadows that come and go when one is lighting oneself up a 
staircase, filled him with a vague disquiet as they rose 
abruptly before him and then disappeared. 

When he had reached his landing, lie opened his door and 
hurriedly shut himself in. His first care was to look under 
his bed, and subject his room to a minute inspection, to 
ascertain if anybody were hiding there. He closed the sky- 
light, thinking that it might give admittance to some 
enemy. When he had taken these precautions, he felt 
much calmer ; he undressed himself, astonished at his own., 


pusillanimity. He ended by laughing at himself and calling 
himself a great baby. He had never been timid, and he 
was unable to account for this sudden attack of nervous- 

He went to bed. When he had got between the warm 
sheets, the thought of Therese, whom he had forgotten in 
his alarm, occurred to him again. Although he closed his 
eyes obstinately, and was trying to fall asleep, he felt that, 
despite him, his brain was at work, imposing its will upon 
him, and suggesting to him in orderly sequence the various 
advantages that he would gain by getting married as soon 
as possible. Every now and then he would turn over and 
say to himself : "I won't think about it. I must get to 
sleep. I have to be up at eight o'clock to-morrow morning 
to go to the office." And he tried his best to doze off. But 
his conjectures were forming again one by one ; his reason- 
ing was resuming its dull work ; very soon he found him- 
self plunged into a sort of sharp-set reverie, which was 
displaying in the depths of his brain the necessity for his 
marriage, and the arguments which in turn his desire and 
his prudence had advanced for and against his possessing 

Then, finding it impossible to sleep,' and that this wake- 
fulness was irritating his nervous system, he turned on his 
back, opened his eyes wide, and permitted the memory of 
the young woman to invade his brain. He had lost all 
control over his evenly balanced disposition ; the burning 
fever of old held him once more in its grasp. It occurred to 
him to get up and go back to the Passage du Pont-Neuf. 
He would have the gate opened ; he would go and knock at 
the little staircase-door, and Therese would admit him. 
The blood rushed up to his neck at the idea. 

There was a remarkable lucidity in this reverie of his. 
He could see himself in the streets, walking fast along the 


houses, and he kept saying to himself : " I must go down 
this Boulevard, I must cross at this turning, to get there 
the sooner." Then he could hear the gate of the Passage 
creak; he went down the narrow arcade, all dark and 
deserted, congratulating himself on being able to go up to 
Therese without being observed by the dealer in imitation 
jewellery; then he imagined himself in the alley, on the little 
staircase he had so often ascended. There, he experienced 
the pungent raptures of the past; he remembered the 
charming dangers, the poignant delights of adultery. His 
recollections were becoming realities, which affected all his 
senses ; he could smell the faint odour of the corridor, he 
could feel the slimy walls, he could see the dirty shadows 
that hung about. And he went up each step, panting, 
listening, and satisfying his passion by anticipation in that 
timid approach of the woman he longed for. And at last he 
was tapping at the door, the door opened, and Therese was 
there awaiting him, all white in her deshabille. 

These fancies succeeded each other in his mind like a 
sequence of real events. With his eyes fixed on darkness, 
he could see. When at the end of his tramp through the 
streets, after going down the Passage and ascending the 
little staircase, he fancied he saw Therese, pale and ardent, 
before him, he leapt out of bed at a bound, muttering : " I 
must go to her, she is waiting for me." The sudden change 
of position dispelled the hallucination ; the cold floor chilled 
him; he was frightened. For a moment he stood there, 
bare-footed, motionless, listening. He fancied he could hear 
a noise on the landing. If he went to Therese, he would 
have to pass once more before the cellar-door downstairs ; a 
violent cold shudder ran down his back even to think of it. 
He was seized again with fright, a stupid but crushing 
fright. He looked suspiciously round the room, and saw 
whitish strips of light about it ; then, quietly, and with 


every precaution that his anxious haste would permit, he 
crept back to his bed, and, once there, huddled himself up, 
hid himself as though to avoid some weapon, some kuife 
which menaced him. 

The blood gushed up into his neck, and his neck was on 
fire. He put his hand-to it ; he felt the scar of Camille's 
bite beneath his fingers. He had almost forgotton that 
bite. He was horrified to find it still there on his skin ; it 
seemed to be eating away his flesh. In order to feel it no 
longer he had sharply withdrawn his hand ; but he could 
still feel it corroding, drilling his neck. Then he thought 
he would scratch it gently, just with the tip of his nail ; it 
only burnt twice as fiercely as before. In order not to lacer- 
ate his skin, he clinched his two hands between his bent 
knees ; and thus he remained, stiff and exasperated, with a 
gnawing at his neck, and his teeth chattering with fright. 

Now his ideas kept clinging to Camille with ghastly per- 
sistence. Never until then had the drowned man disturbed 
Laurent's slumbers. And lo ! the first dream about 
Therese raised her husband's ghost. The murderer did not 
dare, now, to open his eyes; he was afraid of espying his 
victim in some corner of the room. Once he fancied that 
his bed was being shaken in a queer way ; he imagined that 
Camille must be lying hid beneath, and that it was he who 
was shaking it so, to tumble him out of it and then bite 
him. With a haggard face and every hair standing on end, 
he gripped hold of the mattress, fully persuaded that the 
shocks were increasing in violence. 

Then he perceived that the bed was not moving. That 
brought about a reaction. He sat up, lighted his candle, 
and cursed himself for a fool. To allay his fever, he gulped 
down a large glass of water. 

" I oughtn't to have got drinking at that dram-shop," he 
thought. " I don't know what's the matter with me to- 


night. It's absurd. I shall feel awfully seedy at the office 
all day. I ought to have gone to sleep directly I went to 
bed, and not bothered my head with a lot of rubbish; that's 
what has kept me awake. Let's go to sleep." 

He blew out the light once more. Somewhat refreshed, 
he buried his head in the pillow, fully determined not to 
think, not to be frightened again. His nerves were becom- 
ing relaxed with fatigue. 

He did not fall into his accustomed profound and heavy 
sleep ; he glided gradually into a sort of vague somnolence. 
He was, as it were, merely benumbed — steeped in a kind of 
mild and voluptuous torpor. His body was awake as he 
slept ; his understanding was alive in his inanimate form. 
He had put to flight the thoughts that thronged upon him ; 
he had evaded his vigil. But when he dozed off, when he 
lost the control of his muscles and the mastery of his will, 
his thoughts came back quietly, one after another, and re- 
sumed possession of his faltering being. His reverie returned 
to him. Once again he travelled the distance that separated 
him from Therese; he went downstairs, he ran full speed 
past the cellar, and found himself outside the house; he 
hurried along all the streets through which he had passed 
before, when he was dreaming with his eyes open ; he went 
into the Passage du Pont-Neuf, ascended the little staircase, 
and tapped at the door. But instead of Therese, instead of 
the young woman in deshabille, displaying her bare bosom, 
it was Camille who opened to his summons — Camille as he 
had seen him at the Morgue, turning green, and unspeak- 
ably disfigured. And the corpse held out its arms to him 
with a ghoulish laugh, showing a bit of blackened tongue 
between the whiteness of its teeth. 

Laurent uttered a yell of horror and woke up with a 
start. He was bathed in icy perspiration. He dragged 
up the counterpane over his eyes, cursing himself, and 


p. 122. 


getting into a rage with himself. He tried to fall asleep 

He did fall asleep again, as before, gradually. The same 
lassitude came upon him ; and as soon as his volition had 
escaped him in the languor of semi-somnolence, he started 
on his errand again : he returned to where his master-passion 
was leading him, he hurried along to see Therese, and it was 
again the drowned man that opened the door to him. 

Terrified, the villain sat up in his bed. He would have 
given the world to drive away this implacable dream. He 
longed for a slumber of lead wherein he might be free from 
his thoughts. So long as he kept awake, he had enough 
strength left to put his victim's ghost to flight ; but as soon 
as he lost the mastery of his brain, his brain led him to 
fright, on the way to voluptuousness. 

He gave sleep another trial. Then came a succession of 
voluptuous lethargies, and abrupt and heart-rending awaken- 
ings. In his mad obstinacy, he was for ever seeking out 
Therese, and for ever coming into contact with Camille's 
corpse. More than a dozen times running he retraced his 
road ; he started boiling with ardour, went the same way, 
felt the same sensations, did the same things, with minute 
exactness, and, more than a dozen times he beheld the 
drowned man offer himself to his embrace, when he stretched 
forth his arms to clasp his mistress to his heart. This same 
ominous result, which woke him up every time in gasping 
distraction, did not dishearten his passion ; a few minutes 
after, as soon as he fell asleep again, his desire would forget 
the ghastly corpse which awaited it, and hurry off anew to 
seek the warm supple body of a woman. During a whole 
hour, Laurent lived through this succession of nightmares, 
this awful dream that was always repeating itself and yet 
always came to such an unexpected conclusion, that shattered 
' him, at every start, with a keener terror. 

124 THtiRftSE RAQUIN. 

One of these shocks, the last, was so violent and so pain- 
ful, that he determined to give up the struggle and get up, 
Day was breaking ; a grey and sullen dawn was appearing 
through the skylight, which was now a square of cindery 

Laurent dressed himself slowly, in a state of latent irrita- 
tion. He was furious at having been unable to sleep, at 
having allowed himself to give way to a fright which he now 
looked upon as a silly scare. While he put on his trousers, 
he stretched himself, he rubbed his limbs, he smoothed down 
his face, which was wasted and drawn by his feverish night. 

" I oughtn't to have thought about all that," he kept re- 
peating to himself. " I ought to have had a good sleep ; I 
should be fresh as paint at the present moment if I had. 
Ah ! if Th^rese had only chosen last night ; if Therese had 
been with me — ! " 

The idea that Th&rese would have prevented him feeling 
frightened calmed him down a little. For indeed he already 
dreaded the prospect of passing other nights like the one he 
had just endured. 

He dashed some water in his face, and then touched up 
his hair with a comb. This apology for a toilette cooled his 
head, and dissipated his last remnants of fear. He could 
think sensibly now ; the only disagreeable sensation he ex- 
perienced was a violent aching in every limb. 

"And yet I am no coward," he said to himself as he 
finished dressing ; " I don't care a snap of the fingers for 
Camille ! It was ridiculous to fancy the poor devil could be 
under my bed. And now, perhaps, I shall come to fancy so 
every night. Decidedly I must get married as soon as 
possible. When I am safe in TMrese's arms, I sha'n't 
bother much about Camille. She will kiss me on the neck, 
and I shall never feel that horrid burning sensation again. 
Let's have a look at the bite." 


He went up to his looking-glass, stretched his neck, and 
looked. The scar was of a pale rose colour. Laurent ex- 
perienced a certain emotion when he made out the mark of 
his victim's teeth ; the blood rushed to his head, and then 
he observed a strange phenomenon. The scar was em- 
purpled by the rising flood ; it became bright and bloody ; 
it stood out, all red, on the fat white neck. At the same 
time Laurent felt sharp pricklings, as if needles had been 
forced into the wound. He hastened to raise his shirt collar. 

" Bah ! " he muttered, " Therese will heal that. A few of 
her kisses will be enough. What a fool I am to think about 
such things ! " 

He put on his hat and went down. He was longing for 
the open air, longing to be walking about. As he passed 
before the cellar-door he smiled ; but he took the precaution, 
nevertheless, of testing the solidity of the padlock which 
fastened that door. When he got outside he fell to walking 
slowly, in the fresh morning air, along the deserted pave- 
ment. It was about five o'clock. 

Laurent had a dreadful day of it. He had to fight with 
the overwhelming somnolence that assailed him at the office 
in the afternoon. His heavy and benumbed head nodded in 
spite of him, and he had to raise it abruptly every time he 
heard the step of one of his superiors. This struggle, these 
shocks, completed the general break-up of his system, and 
put him into a state of intolerable anxiety. 

In the evening, notwithstanding his lassitude, he went to 
see Therese. He found her as feverish, as dejected, as tired 
out as himself. 

" Our poor Therese has had a bad night," said Madame 
Eaquin, when he had sat down. "It seems she had the 
nightmare — couldn't sleep at all. Several times I heard her 
scream out. She was quite ill with it this morning." 

While her aunt was speaking, Therese was fixing her eyes 


upon Laurent. No doubt they guessed at their common 
fears, for a nervous shudder passed over both their faces. 
They remained opposite to each other till ten o'clock, con- 
versing upon different subjects, but understanding each 
other, and conjuring each other with a lopk to hasten the 
moment when they could combine against the drowned man. 



Thebese too had been visited by Camille's ghost during that 
fevered night. 

Laurent's burning proposal asking her to receive him, 
after a year or more of indifference, had produced in her an 
abrupt commotion. Her flesh began to tingle when, alone 
and in bed, she thought of her approaching marriage. And 
then, in the midst of her racking wakefulness, the drowned 
man had appeared to her; like Laurent, she had tossed 
about in fits of alternate desire and affright, and, like 
Laurent, she had persuaded herself that she would tremble 
no longer — she would no longer be exposed to such tortures 
when she held her lover in her arms. 

At the same moment a sort of nervous derangement had 
taken place in~this woman and this man, which yielded 
them up, palpitating and terror-stricken prisoners, to their 
horrible amours. A relationship of blood and passion had 
arisen between them. They shuddered with the same 
shudders; the same throes set their hearts throbbing in a 
kind of fraternity of pain. From that time forth they 
possessed between them but one body, one soul, to enjoy or 
to suffer. This incorporation, this reciprocal grafting, is a 
psychological and physiological fact which has been often 
observed in the case of persons whom some great nervous 
shock has hurled into violent contact with each other. 

For more than a year Th^rese and Laurent had, with a 
light heart, worn the chain which was riveted to them and 
which united them. In the depression which succeeded to 


the acute crisis of the murder, in the repulsion and the 
craving for peace and oblivion which followed, these two 
galley-slaves came to fancy themselves free, to believe them- 
selves no longer connected by a link of iron. Their slack- 
ened chain was dragging the ground; for their part, they 
were taking their ease, they were wrapped in a sort of 
pleasant torpor; they tried to win themselves other loves 
to regulate their lives philosophically. But the very day 
when, driven by events, they had again come to speak in 
the language of passion, the sudden strain upon their chain 
gave them such a shock that they felt it muBt bind them for 
ever to each other. 

From the morrow, Therese set to work quietly, and 
brought all her cunning to bear upon the compassing of her 
marriage with Laurent. Her task was a difficult one, and 
replete with peril. The chief danger that the lovers had to 
dread was that of acting imprudently, awakening suspicion, 
revealing too abruptly the interest they had had in Camille's 
death. Aware that it was not from them that the sugges- 
tion of a marriage should come, they decided upon a most 
astute course — that of getting Madame Eaquin herself, and 
the Thursday visitors, to offer them the boon they had 
not the courage to crave. All they had to do was to 
put the idea of re-marrying Ther&se into these worthy 
people's heads, and, above all, to persuade them that 
the idea originated with them, and was therefore wholly 

The comedy was long, and required clever acting. 
Therese and Laurent had each taken the part that suited 
them. They proceeded with the utmost prudence, calcula- 
ting the effect of their least gesture, their least word. 
Truth to tell, they were consumed by an impatience that 
was straining their nerves to the utmost. They were living 
in the midst of a restless swarm of irritants, and they 

THfiKfcSE RAQUIN. 129 

needed all their craven dread of betraying themselves to 
force a smile, or assume an indifferent demeanour. 

If they were eager for the fall of the curtain, it was be- 
cause they could no longer bear to live separate and alone. 
Every night the drowned man visited them ; and a demon 
of wakefulness kept them stretched on a bed of fiery coals, 
and turned them over with red-hot tongs. The enervated 
state in which they were living exacerbated the fever of 
their blood, every evening, with the awful hallucinations 
which it conjured up. Ther&se dared no longer go up to 
her room in the twilight ; she suffered actual pain when at 
last she had to shut herself up in the big room, which be- 
came weirdly luminous, and harboured apparitions as soon 
as she put out the light. She ended by keeping her candle 
alight, by resolving not to sleep, in order to keep her eyes 
wide open. And when her eyelids closed with fatigue, she 
saw Camille in the darkness, and she opened her eyes again 
with a start. The next morning she would drag herself 
about, worn out through want of sleep, having indeed only 
slept a few hours at daylight. 

As for Laurent, he had become quite a coward since 
the night he was so frightened at the cellar-door. Before 
that he had lived on in animal security ; now, the 
slightest noise made him tremble and turn pale, like a 
little boy. One shudder of terror had abruptly shaken 
his limbs, and had not again relaxed its grip. At night 
he suffered even more than Ther&se. Terrible were the 
convulsions that fear produced on that flabby, cowardly 
carcase. It was with the most agonized apprehension 
tbat he noted the decline of day. Several times it 
occurred to him to prefer not to go home at all, and 
pass whole nights in tramping the deserted streets. Once, 
when it was raining in torrents, he stayed under a bridge 
till morning. There, huddled together, cold as ice, without 


130 THriftilSE RAQUIN. 

tbe courage to rise and go up to the quay, he watched the 
dirty water flowing in the whitish gloom for nearly sis 
hours. Now and then he fell flat upon the muddy shore in a 
spasm of horror ; for under the bridge he seemed to see an 
endless procession of drowned persons swooping past with the 
current. When utter weariness drove him home, he double- 
locked the door, and went to bed to toss about till dawn in 
frightful paroxysms of fever. The same nightmare perse- 
cuted him persistently. He seemed ever to be falling from 
Thdrese's ardent and passionate embrace into Camille's 
freezing and viscous arms. He began by dreaming that his 
mistress was suffocating him with caresses, and then that 
the drowned man was hugging him to his putrid breast 
with an icy clasp. And these abrupt and alternate sensa- 
tions of delight and disgust — this contact, now with a warm 
heart, beating with love, now with a cold corpse, sodden 
with slime — set him panting and shuddering and howling in 

And every day intensified the terror of the lovers ; every 
day the nightmare assailed them with more crushing, more 
maddening effect. Their only hope now was that they would 
be able to cure their wakefulness with their kisses. From 
prudential motives, they did not venture to renew their 
stolen interviews ; they were awaiting the wedding-day as a 
day of salvation, which would be followed by a happy night. 

Thus it came to pass that they longed to be united with 
all the craving they had for a night of placid rest. During 
the period of their indifference, they had hesitated, having 
both forgotten the selfish and wicked object which had 
tempted them to commit murder, and had then, as it were, 
evaporated. When they found the fever upon them again, 
the original object which had induced them to kill Camille, 
the prospect of bliss which they thought lawful wedlock 
would ensure, revived again in the depths of their selfishness 


and their passion. Besides, it was with a vague feeling of 
despair that they had come to the final determination of 
publicly uniting their destinies. In the bottom of their 
hearts they were afraid. Their desire was thrilling them. 
They were bent, in a manner, over each other, as over an abyss 
which had fascinated them with its horrors ; they were gaz- 
ing down, reciprocally, into their entity, mute, clinging, 
while a giddiness, exquisitely voluptuous, enervated their 
limbs, and lured them over the brink. But, face to face 
with the present, with their anxious expectation and their 
timid desires, they felt the imperious necessity for shutting 
their eyes to possibilities, for picturing to themselves a 
future of happy love and peaceful enjoyment. The more 
they trembled in each other's presence, the better they could 
imagine the horrors of the chasm into which they were about 
to hurl themselves, and the oftener they attempted to de- 
ceive themselves with promises of happiness, to remind 
themselves of the irrevocable events which were relentlessly 
driving them to marriage. 

Therese wanted to get married solely because she was 
afraid, and felt the need of her Laurent's violent caresses. 
She was passing through a nervous crisis that almost drove 
her mad. Truth to tell, she reasoned with herself very 
little ; she abandoned herself to her passion, with her mind 
unhinged by the novels she had last read, and her whole 
system irritated by the cruel visions which had kept her 
awake for so many weeks. 

Laurent, who was not nearly so thin-skinned, was not 
without arguments to fortify him in his decision, although 
he gave way freely to his terrors and desires. In order to 
prove to himself beyond a doubt that this marriage was an 
absolute necessity, and that he was at last about to live in 
perfect happiness, in order to put to flight the vague fears 
that beset him, he went through all his old calculations 


afresh. As his father, the old Jeufosse peasant, was obstin- 
ately living on, he reminded himself that he might have to 
wait a long time for his inheritance ; indeed, that it might 
never reach him at all, but find its way into the pockets of 
a cousin of his, a strapping fellow who was content to ply a 
spade to the entire satisfaction of old Laurent. And he 
would always be poor, he would have to live in a garret 
without a wife, with a hard bed every night and a bad dinner 
every day. Besides, he did not want to have to work all 
his life ; he was beginning to find his office a fearful bore ; 
his idle disposition turned the light duties that he had to 
perform into an intolerable burden. The result of his medi- 
tations was always that supreme felicity consists in being 
able to live without doing anything. Then he remembered 
that he had drowned Camille in order to marry Therese, and 
live ever after without doing anything. Certainly the pro- 
spect of having his mistress all to himself had gone for a 
good deal in the conception of the crime, but he had been 
tempted to murder far more perhaps by the hope of taking 
Camille's place, of being coddled up like him, and of 
enjoying the same hourly beatitude ; if it had been 
passion alone that was urging him on, he would not 
have manifested so much cowardice, so much prudence. 
The truth was, that he had not hesitated to murder his 
friend in order to insure a peaceful and lazy existence, and 
the permanent gratification of his every appetite. All these 
considerations, avowed or unspoken, flocked back to his mind. 
He kept repeating to himself, as a consolation, that it was 
now high time to be enjoying the legitimate advantages of 
Camille's death. And he displayed to himself the profits, 
the pleasures of his future existence : he would be able to 
give up the office, to live in delicious idleness ; he would be 
able to eat, drink, sleep his fill ; he would always have a 
loving woman to his hand who would re-establish the even 


balance of his blood and his nerves ; soon he would come in 
for Madame Raquin's forty odd thousand francs, for the poor 
old woman was dying by inches every day ; in a word, he 
would secure the happy life of an animal — he would forget 

Ever since the marriage had been settled between 
Therese and himself, Laurent thought of scarcely any- 
thing but all this ; he even tried to discover further 
advantages to be gained thereby, and he became quite joy- 
ful when he fancied he had found some fresh argument, in 
the depths of his selfishness, that compelled him to marry 
the drowned man's widow. But to no avail did he force 
himself into hope ; to no avail did he dream out a fat future 
of sloth and voluptuousness ; he still felt sudden shudders 
that froze his blood, he still experienced, now and then, an 
anxiety that choked all the exultation in his throat. 



Nevertheless, Therese's and Laurent's machinations were 
bearing fruit. Therese had assumed a sombre and despair- 
ing attitude that in a very few days succeeded in making 
Madame Raquin quite anxious. The old lady insisted on 
knowing what was the cause of her niece's sadness. Then 
the young woman played her part of the disconsolate widow 
with admirable skill ; she hinted at worry, depression, 
nervous attacks, in vague terms, without precisely complain- 
ing about anything. When her aunt plied her with ques- 
tions, she answered that she felt quite well, that she did not 
know what it was that depressed her so, that she could not 
account for her fits of weeping. And she went in for a 
course of stolen sobs, pale heart-breaking smiles, speechless 
and unutterable despair. The end of it was, that Madame 
Raquin became seriously alarmed to see the young woman 
bowed down like this, and, to all seeming, unaccountably 
fading away ; her niece was the only one she had left in the 
world, and every night she prayed that the child might be 
spared to close her eyes. There was a touch of selfishness 
in this last love of her old age. The thought that she 
might lose Therese, and die all alone in the damp shop down 
the Passage, reminded her keenly of how few were the com- 
forts of her existence. From that moment she watched her 
niece's every movement, she studied with dread the young 
woman's every symptom, she spent hours in wondering what 
she could do to alleviate that silent despair. 

Under such serious circumstances, she thought it best to 

THriRjfcSE RAQTJ1N. 135 

ask the opinion of her old friend Michaud. One Thursday 
evening she detained him in the shop, and unbosomed her- 
self of her fears. 

" Why, of course ! " exclaimed the old man, with pro- 
fessional bluntness, " I have long noticed that Therese has 
got a fit of the sulks, and I know well enough why she 
looks so pale and miserable." 

" You know the reason ? " cried the old lady. " Come, 
tell me quick ! If we could only hope for a cure ! " 

" Oh ! the prescription is simple enough," returned 
Michaud, with a laugh. " Your niece is dull because she 
has been alone of a night in her room these two years past. 
What she wants is a husband ; one can see it in her eyes." 

The ex-commissary of police's bluntness gave Madame 
Eaquin a painful shock. She had thought that the wound 
which, ever since the awful accident at Saint-Ouen, was still 
bleeding within her, had been throbbing just as vividly, just 
as grievously all the while in the young widow's heart. 
After her son's death she could not conceive the possi- 
bility of married life for her niece. And here was Michaud 
gaily asseverating that Therese was ill for want of a 

" Marry her off as soon as possible," he said on his way 
out, " if you don't want to see her pine away altogether. 
That is my advice, my dear lady ; and it is the best, believe 

Madame Kaquin could not accustom herself all at once to 
the idea that her son was already forgotten. Old Michaud 
had not even mentioned Camille's name, and he had not 
scrupled to make Therese's supposed illness a subject for his 
jokes. The poor mother understood that it was she alone 
who kept her dear boy's memory alive in her heart. She 
wept bitterly ; it seemed to her that Camille had just died 
for the second time. Then, when she had had a good cry, 


and was tired out with sorrowing, Michaud's words came 
back to her, despite herself ; and she tried to accustom her- 
self to the idea of purchasing a little happiness even at the 
price of a marriage which, to her delicate nature, seemed to 
be slaughtering her son afresh. It made her quite nervous 
to find herself in the presence of Therese, sad and despondent 
in the midst of the icy silence of the shop. Hers was none 
of those stiff and dry characters which seem to take a morbid 
pleasure in resigning themselves to a life-long despair ; hers 
was a pliant, devoted, expansive nature — the nature of a 
good old dame, whose good-humour and affability impel her 
irresistibly to a life of active kindness. Existence had be- 
come intolerable for her ever since her niece had relapsed 
into silence ; while she was sitting there, pallid and weak, 
the shop seemed like a tomb ; and Madame Raquin's only 
desire was to be surrounded with a warm affection, living 
mterests, loving caresses, a bright and gentle something that 
should enable her to await her death in peace. 

It was this unconscious sentiment that led her to entertain 
the idea of re-marrying Therese ; she even at times found 
herself forgetting her son ; an awakening took place in the 
dead-alive existence she was leading ; she had lighted upon 
a new incentive, a fresh occupation for her mind. She was 
seeking a husband for her niece, and that taxed her mental 
powers to the full. This choice of a husband was a serious 
business ; the poor old woman was thinking more of herself 
than of Therese ; she wanted to marry her so as to ensure 
her own happiness, for she was desperately afraid that the 
young woman's new husband might prove a disturbing 
element to the last days of her old age. The thought that 
she was about to introduce a stranger into her every-day life 
frightened her, prevented her talking matrimony to her 
niece as openly as she had intended. 

While Therese, whose education had made her a past 


mistress in all the arts of hypocrisy, was playing the part of 
a woman bored to death and bowed down with dejection, 
Laurent had assumed the rdle of a considerate and useful 
friend. . He was always rendering himself necessary to the 
two women, particularly to Madame Raquin, whom he de- 
lighted with his delicate attentions. Little by little he 
became indispensable in the shop ; he alone infused a little 
gaiety into the gloom of the dingy place. When he did not 
happen to be there in the evening, the old lady would look 
about her uneasily, as though she missed something, and 
almost felt afraid of being left alone with Therese's despair. 
Besides, Laurent never missed an evening except with the 
object of consolidating his influence. He went to the shop 
every day on his way back from the office, and stayed there 
till the Passage gates were closed. He executed all Madame 
Raquin's commissions, he handed her any little thing she 
might be wanting, for she could only walk with difficulty. 
Then he made himself at home ; he started a conversation. 
He discovered a gentle but emotional actor's voice ; and he 
used it to charm the good old lady's heart and ears. Above 
all, he manifested the deepest interest in Therese's health — 
the interest of a true friend, of a kindly soul who suffers at 
the sight of another's woe. Several times he took Madame 
Raquin aside, and horrified her by his expressions of alarm 
at the .alteration, the wasting, that he had noticed in the 
young woman's face. 

" We shall soon be losing her," he murmured with tears 
in his voice. " We cannot blind ourselves to the fact that 
she is very, very ill. Ah ; me ! our poor lost happiness ; our 
pleasant, quiet little evenings ! " 

Madame Raquin listened to him in agony. Laurent 
pushed his audacity so far as to mention Camille by name. 

"You see," he continued, "my poor friend's death was 
a terrible blow to her. She lias been dying by inches these 


two years past, ever since the fatal day when she lost 
Camille. There is no consolation, there is no cure for grief 
such as hers. We must resign ourselves to the inevitable." 

These impudent lies set the hot tears flowing fast from the 
old lady's eyes. These allusions to her dead son upset and 
blinded her. Every time she heard Camille's name she 
burst out sobbing ; she gave way to her sorrow ; she could 
have kissed the lips that mentioned her poor child's name. 
Laurent had not failed to notice that the effect of his name 
upon her was at once to agitate and to soothe. He was able 
to make her weep at pleasure, to shatter her with emotions 
that obscured her clear view of things ; and he abused his 
power in order to keep her always a pliant and ready instru- 
ment to his hand. Every evening, notwithstanding the 
inward repulsion that thrilled through him, he brought 
round the conversation to Camille's rare qualities, tendei 
heart, and polished wit ; he praised his victim up to the skies 
with the most consummate impudence. Now and then, 
when he caught Therese fixing her eyes strangely upon his, 
he shuddered, and finished by himself believing all the good 
he had been saying of the drowned man ; then he held his 
tongue, seized with an access of violent jealousy, and 
trembled lest the widow should happen to love the man 
whom he had thrown in the water, and whom he was now 
praising up with all the conviction of a lunatic. During 
the whole of the conversation, Madame Eaquin was in tears, 
and could not see for weeping. And while she wept she was 
thinking that Laurent had a loving and generous heart ; he 
was the only one to give her son a thought ; he was the only 
one to talk of him still with a voice trembling with emotion. 
Then she wiped away her tears ; she gazed upon the young 
man with an infinite tenderness ; she loved him as her own 

One Thursday evening, Michaud and Grivet were already 

THfiKfcSE RAQUIN. 139 

in the dining-room when Laurent came in, and, going up to 
Therese, inquired about her health with a tender, solicitude. 
He sat down a moment at her side, and played his part of 
the affectionate and anxious friend for the benefit of the as- 
sembled company. As the young people sat next each 
other, exchanging a few words, Michaud, who was looking 
at them, bent over, and, pointing at Laurent, whispered to 
the old lady : 

" Look there ! That's the husband for your niece. You 
ought to bring about the match at once. We will help you, 
if necessary." 

And Michaud laughed a jolly laugh. In his opinion, what 
Therese wanted was a vigorous husband. A ray of light 
flashed, as it were, on Madame Kaquin. She perceived on a 
sudden all the advantages which, personally, she would de- 
rive from an alliance between Therese and Laurent. This 
marriage would only strengthen the bonds that united them 
already — herself and her niece — to her son's friend, to this 
kind-hearted fellow, who came every evening to cheer them 
up. In adopting this course, she would not be introducing 
a stranger into the family, she would run no risk of being 
unhappy ; on the contrary, while she provided Therese with 
a helpmate, she would, at the same timej be infusing an ad- 
ditional element of gladness into her old age, she would find 
a second son in the person of this young man, who had 
manifested a truly filial affection for her for three years past. 
Then, it seemed to her that in marrying Laurent, Therese 
would be less unfaithful to Camille's memory. There is an 
ineffable delicacy in the religion of the heart. Madame 
Raquin, who would have wept to see the young widow in 
the arms of a stranger, experienced no repugnance at the 
thought of entrusting her to the love of her son's old friend. 
She was thinking, as the saying has it, that it would not go 
out of the family. 


During the whole evening, while her guests played do- 
minoes, the old lady kept her eyes fixed on the couple with 
so obvious an emotion that the young man and the young 
woman soon guessed that their comedy was a success, and 
that the end was at hand. Before he left, Michaud had a 
short conversation in undertones with Madame Kaquin ; then 
he took Laurent's arm ostentatiously, and announced that he 
was going to see him home. As Laurent left the room, he 
exchanged a swift glance with Therese, a glance full of 
urgent import. 

Michaud had undertaken to ascertain how matters stood. 
He found that, though the young man was thoroughly de- 
voted to the ladies in question, he was much surprised at 
the idea of a marriage between Therese and himself. 
Laurent added, with emotion, that he loved his poor friend's 
widow like a sister, and that it would seem almost a sacri- 
lege to him to marry her. The ex-commissary of police in- 
sisted ; he brought forward hundreds of good reasons to gain 
his point ; he even spoke of it as a duty incumbent upon 
the young man to restore a son to Madame Raquin, and a 
husband to Therese. Little by little, Laurent allowed him- 
self to be convinced ; he pretended to give way to emotion, 
to look upon the idea of this marriage as an idea inspired by 
Heaven, and, as old Michaud said, dictated by devotion and 
duty. When Michaud had obtained a formal consent, he 
rubbed his hands, and left his companion ; he thought he 
had just won a great victory, he congratulated himself on 
having been the first to arrange a marriage which would re- 
store all their pristine festivity to the Thursday evenings. 

Whilst Michaud was carrying on this conversation with 
Laurent, as they slowly passed along the quays, Madame 
Eaquin was holding forth to Therese in almost the same 
terms. As her niece, pale and weakly as ever, was rising to 
retire for the night, the old lady detained her a while. She\ 

THtiRfiSE RAQUI.N. 141 

questioned her in gentle tones, she entreated her to speak 
frankly, to confess the origin of the apathy which burdened 
her. Then, as the only replies she could elicit were vague, 
she spoke of the loneliness of widowhood, she arrived little 
by little at the definite suggestion of a second marriage, and 
ended by asking Thirese, in so many words, whether she 
was not secretly wishing to marry again. Therese began 
protesting, saying that she had not thought of such a thing, 
and that she would continue faithful to Camille. Madame 
Eaquin burst into tears. She pleaded against her own feel- 
ings, she explained that grief cannot be eternal ; at last, in 
response to the young woman's cry that she could never re- 
place Camille, she abruptly named Laurent. Then she 
expatiated with a flood of words upon the propriety, the 
advantages of such a union ; she poured out her soul, she 
repeated aloud the thoughts that had filled her mind all the 
evening; with the naivete of selfishness, she drew the 
picture of her final happiness between her two dear children. 
Therese listened to her with bowed head, docile and resigned, 
ready to gratify her least wish. 

" I love Laurent as a brother," she said sadly, when her 
aunt came to an end. " Since it is your desire, I will try to 
love him as a husband. I want to make you happy. I had 
hoped that you would have left me to weep in peace ; but I 
will dry my tears, since your happiness is at stake.'' 

She kissed the old lady, who was surprised and alarmed 
at having been the first to forget her son. As she went to 
bed, Madame Eaquin sobbed bitterly, and accused herself of 
being less courageous than. The'rese, of wishing for a marriage 
out of selfishness which the young widow was about to ac- 
cept in a spirit of self-sacrifice. 

The next morning, Michaud and his old friend had a short 
conversation in the Passage, outside the shop-door. They 
reported to each other the result of the steps they had 


taken, and agreed to bring matters to a speedy conclusion, 
and, that very evening, to force the young people into an 

That evening, at five o'clock, Michaud was already in the 
shop when Laurent came in. As soon as the young man 
had sat down, the ex-commissary of police whispered in his 
ear, " She accepts." 

Therese overheard this plain language ; she lost none of 
her pallor, and kept her eyes impudently fixed upon Laurent. 
The two lovers looked at each other for some moments, as if 
in consultation. They both understood that they must ac- 
cept the position without hesitation, and finish with it at a 
stroke. Laurent rose, and, going up to Madame Eaquin, who 
was doing all she could to keep back her tears, took her hand. 

" Dear mother," he said to her with a smile, "I was talking 
to Monsieur Michaud about your happiness last night. Your 
children's only wish is to make you happy." 

On hearing herself called "dear mother," the poor old 
woman let flow her tears. With a quick movement she 
took Therese's hand and placed it in Laurent's; but she 
could not speak. 

A shudder passed through the two lovers at the contact 
of their flesh. They remained thus a moment with hands 
clasped and burning in a nervous grip. The young man re- 
sumed in hesitating accents : 

" Therese, are you willing to join me in securing a gay 
and peaceful existence for your aunt ] " 

" Yes," faltered the young woman ; " we have a task to 

Then Laurent turned towards Madame Raquin, and added, 
with a pale face : 

"When Camille fell into the water, he shouted to me,- 
' Save my wife ! I entrust her to you 1 ' In marrying Therese, ■- 
I believe that I am carrying out his last wishes." 


Therese dropped Laurent's hand when she heard these 
words. She had received, as it were, a blow in the chest. 
Her lover's impudence crushed her. She looked at him 
with dazed eyes, while Madame Eaquin, whose sobs almost 
choked her, stammered : , 

'.'Yes, yes, my friend, marry her, make her happy, my 
son will render you thanks from the bottom of his grave." 

Laurent felt himself totter ; he leant on the back of a 
chair. Michaud, who was also moved to tears, pushed him 
towards Therese, exclaiming : 

" Kiss each other, you two ! It will be your betrothal." 

The young man was seized with a strange uneasiness when 
he placed his lips on the widow's cheeks, and she stepped 
back suddenly as though her lover's two kisses had burnt 
her. It was the first caress she had received from this man 
before witnesses ; all the blood rushed to her face, she felt 
all red and hot, she who did not know what modesty 
was, and who had never blushed throughout her shameful 

After this crisis, the two murderers were able to breathe. 
Their marriage was settled, they were at last within reach 
of the goal they had so long had in view. Everything was 
arranged that very evening. The following Thursday, the 
wedding was announced to Grivet, to Olivier and his wife. 
Michaud looked delighted as he told the news; he kept rub- 
bing his hands, and repeating : 

"It was I who thought of it, this match is my work. 
You will see what a handsome couple they will make ! " 

Suzanne went up to Therese, and kissed her in silence. 
This poor creature, nerveless and sallow-faced as she was, 
had taken a fancy to the sombre and stiff young widow. 
She had a child-like affection for her, mingled with a sort of 
respectful awe. Olivier congratulated the aunt and the 
niece. Grivet risked a few spicy jocularities that were but 


moderately appreciated. Altogether, the company seemed 
charmed, delighted, and declared that everything was for 
the best ; truth to tell, the company could already see itself 
attacking the wedding breakfast. 

Therese and Laurent maintained their attitude of studied 
dignity. They manifested a tender and attentive friendship 
for each other — nothing more. They seemed to be accom- 
plishing an act of supreme self-sacrifice. Nothing in their 
physiognomy betrayed the fears or the desires which agitated 
them. Madame Eaquin watched them with pale smiles, 
with a grateful and chastened kindliness. 

There were some few formalities to carry out. Laurent 
had to write to his father to obtain his consent. The old 
Jeufosse peasant, who had almost forgotten that he had a 
son in Paris, sent him a letter of four lines to tell him he 
was at liberty to marry and be hanged, if he chose. He 
gave him to understand that, having resolved never to give 
him a sou, he left him his own master, and authorised him 
to commit all the follies in the world. An authorisation 
couched in such terms as these was remarkably irritating to 

When Madame Eaquin had read this unnatural father's 
epistle, she had a generous impulse which led her into a 
very foolish act. She settled on her niece the forty odd 
thousand francs that she possessed ; she completely stripped 
herself for the young couple, entrusting herself to their 
good-nature, wishing to owe the whole of her happiness to 
them. Laurent brought nothing into the partnership ; he 
even hinted that he might ultimately give up his clerkship, 
and take to painting again. Besides, the future of the 
little household was assured ; the income of the forty odd 
thousand francs, together with the profits of the haber- 
dashery business, was quite sufficient for three people to live 
upon. They would have exacJy enough to be happy. 


' The preparations for the wedding were hurried on. The 
formalities were cut as short as possible. It seemed as if 
everybody was in a hurry to thrust Laurent into Therese's 
room. The longed-for day arrived at last. 



That morning Laurent and Therese, in their separate rooms, 
woke with the same feeling of deep joy : they both said to 
themselves that their last night of terror was over. They 
would no longer sleep alone, they would mutually defend 
each other against the drowned man. 

Therese looked about her, and smiled a strange smile, as 
her eyes measured the width of her big bed. She got up, 
and then dressed slowly, awaiting Suzanne, who was coming 
to help her with her bridal toilet. 

Laurent sat up in bed He remained in the same 
position for some minutes, bidding farewell to the garret he 
found so wretched. At last, then, he was about to leave 
this hovel, and have a woman to himself. It was December. 
He was shivering. He leapt to the floor, telling himself 
that he would feel warm enough that night. 

Madame Kaquin, knowing how hard up he was, had, a 
week before, slipped into his hand a purse containing five 
hundred francs — all her savings. The young man had 
accepted it without a word, and had invested in a new out- 
fit. Besides, the old lady's money had, in addition, enabled 
him to purchase the usual presents for the bride. 

The black trousers, the coat, as well as the white waist- 
coat, the shirt and cravat of fine material, were spread out 
on two chairs. Laurent soaped himself all over, perfumed 
himself with a bottle of eau de Cologne, and then proceeded 
to make a careful toilet. He wanted to look well. As he 
was buttoning his collar — a high, stiff collar — he felt a sharp 


pain in his neck ; the collar stud slipped out of his fingers, 
he got into a rage, the starched linen seemed to be cutting 
into his flesh. He wanted to see what it was, and raised 
his chin : then he perceived that the mark of Camille's bite 
was all red ; the collar had slightly grazed the scar. 
Laurent set his teeth, and turned pale ; the sight of that 
stain which discoloured his neck at such a moment frightened 
and irritated him. He crumpled up the collar, and chose 
another, which he put on with infinite precautions. Then 
he finished dressing. When he went down, his new clothes 
kept him as stiff as a poker ; he dared not turn his head, so 
imprisoned was his neck in the shiny linen. At each move- 
ment he made, a fold of the linen pinched the wound that 
the drowned man's teeth had scooped out in the flesh. And 
still suffering these sharp, stinging pains, he got into the 
carriage and went off to fetch Therese and take her to the 
mayor's and the church. 

On his way he picked up a clerk of the Orleans railway, 
and old Michaud, who were to be his witnesses. When they 
arrived at the shop everybody was ready : Grivet and 
Olivier, Th^rese's witnesses, were there, and also Suzanne, 
who kept looking at the bride like little girls look at the 
dolls they have just dressed. And although Madame 
Eaquin had entirely lost the use of her legs, she wished to 
accompany her children everywhere. So she was hoisted 
into a carriage, and they started off. 

Everything went off well at the mayor's and the church. 
Everybody noticed and approved the calm arid modest atti- 
tude of the young couple. They uttered the sacramental 
" Yes " with an emotion which affected even Grivet. They 
were, as it were, in a dream. Whilst they were so quietly 
sitting or kneeling at each other's side, wild thoughts arose 
within them, despite themselves, and made them tremble. 
When they got back into the carriage, it seemed to 


them that they were greater strangers to each other than 

It had been decided that the wedding feast should be 
on the quiet, at a little restaurant on the heights of Belle- 
ville. The Michauds and Grivet were alone invited. While 
waiting for six o'clock, the wedding party took a drive along 
the Boulevards ; then it stopped at the eating-house, where 
a table, set for seven, stood ready for them in a private 
room painted yellow, and stinking of dust and wine. 

The banquet was but moderately lively. The happy 
couple were grave and pensive. Ever since the morning 
they had experienced strange sensations, for which they did 
not even try to account. From the very first, the rapidity 
with which the formalities and the ceremonies which united 
them for ever had been accomplished had bewildered them. 
Then the long drive on the Boulevards had, as it were, lulled 
aud sent them to sleep ; it seemed to them that the drive 
had lasted for whole months; besides, they had allowed 
themselves to fall, without impatience, into the monotony of 
the streets, looking at the shops and the passers-by with 
eyes more dead than alive, overcome by a numbness of feel- 
ing which dulled their nerves, and which they tried to shake 
off with feeble attempts at bursts of laughter. As soon as 
they had entered the restaurant, an overwhelming fatigue 
seemed to weigh down their shoulders, an increasing torpor 
seemed to overpower them. 

Placed as they were at table, face to face, they smiled 
with an air of constraint, and continually relapsed into a 
deep reverie ; they ate, talked, and moved their limbs like 
machines. In the midst of the lazy lassitude of their minds, 
a similar category of fleeting thoughts kept returning 
unceasingly. They were just married, and they were 
unable to realise their change of state ; it was a cause of 
profound astonishment to them. They could not help 


thinking that they were separated by the same gulf as 
before ; at times they found themselves wondering how they 
could be able to bridge the gulf. It seemed to them that 
things were as they were before the murder, when a 
material obstacle was interposed between them. Then, all 
on a sudden, they remembered that they would be sleeping 
together that evening in a few hours time ; and then they 
looked at each other with surprise, no longer understanding 
why such a thing was permitted to them. They had no 
comprehension of the fact of their wedlock ; it seemed to 
them, on the contrary, as if they had just been violently 
separated and cast far away from each other. 

The guests, who were sillily giggling around them, having 
wished to hear them address each other familiarly, in order 
to set everybody at ease, they stammered and blushed, they 
Jould never make up their minds to behave as lovers in 

In this long interval their passion had worn itself out, all 
She past had disappeared. They had lost their violent 
sensual desires, they had even forgotten their joy on this 
very morning, that profound joy they had felt at the 
thought that they would never be afraid again. They were 
simply wearied and flurried by what was taking place, the 
events of the day revolved in their minds, incomprehensible 
and monstrous. They sat there, silent, smiling, without ex- 
pectation, without hope. A vaguely painful anxiety was 
agitating them beneath their dejection. 

Each time Laurent moved his neck he felt a burning 
smart biting into his flesh ; his collar scraped and pinched 
the place where Camille had bitten him. While the civil 
ceremony was proceeding at the mayor's, while the religious 
service was going on in the church, at every moment of this 
long day, he had felt the teeth of his victim penetrating his 
skin. He sometimes fancied the blood was trickling down 

150 THliRftSE RAQUIN. 

his chest and would stain his white waistcoat with its 
crimson dye. 

Madame Eaquin felt privately grateful to the young 
couple for their gravity ; a noisy mirth would have wounded 
the poor mother; to her it seemed her son was present, 
though unseen, giving Therese to Laurent's care. Grivet 
had very different notions ; he thought the wedding very 
dull, he vainly tried to enliven the guests, undeterred by 
the -frowns of Michaud and Olivier, which nailed him to his 
chair every time he wanted to rise to make some silly re- 
mark. He did at last succeed, however, in getting on his 
legs and proposing a toast. 

" I drink to the bride's and bridegroom's children,'' said 
he in a sprightly tone. 

It was necessary to clink glasses. Ther&se and Laurent 
had turned extremely pale on hearing Grivet's speech. They 
had never contemplated the idea of having children. An. 
icy shudder passed over them at the thought. They ner- 
vously touched glasses, they looked at each other, surprised, 
alarmed at being there, face to face. 

The party rose from table early. The guests wished to 
escort the bride and bridegroom to the nuptial chamber. It 
was scarcely half past nine when the wedding party returned 
to the shop in the Passage. The dealer in sham jewellery 
was still in her cupboard, behind the box lined with blue 
velvet. She raised her head inquisitively, looking at the 
newly-married couple with a smile. They caught her glance 
and were terrified. Perhaps this old woman had known of 
their former meetings, when Laurent used to slip through 
the narrow alley. Therese went almost at once to her 
room, with Madame Eaquin and Suzanne. The men re- 
mained in the dining-room, while the bride prepared to go 
to bed. Laurent, depressed and spiritless, did not feel the 
slightest impatience ; he listened politely to the coarse jokes 

I %\\ t VS.. , ^ 



p. 150. 

THfiltESE RAQUIN. 151 

of Michaud and Grivet, who were now no longer restrained 
by the presence of the ladies. When Suzanne and Madame 
Kaquin left the nuptial chamber, and the old lady told the 
young man in a voice full of emotion, that his bride was 
awaiting him, he started and stood for a moment terrified ; 
then he shook hands feverishly all round, and entered 
Th^rese's room, supporting himself against the door like a 
drunken man. 



Laurent carefully closed the door behind him, and stood 
leaning against it for a moment, casting an anxious. and 
embarrassed glance round the chamber. 

A bright fire blazed on the hearth, throwing out yellow 
gleams, which danced on the walls and ceiling. The room 
was thus illuminated with a vivid and changeful light ; the 
lamp, standing on a table, paled, before this glow. Madame 
Raquin had prettily ornamented the room, dressing it in 
white and filling it with perfume, as a fitting nest for fresh 
young loves. She had trimmed the bed with lace, and filled 
the vases on the mantelpiece with large bouquets of roses. 
A gentle warmth, a pleasant fragrance hung about. The 
air was peaceful and soothing, laden as it were with a 
voluptuous torpor. In the midst of the quivering silence 
came the little sharp noise of crackling wood on the hearth. 
It seemed a happy solitude, an unknown nook, warm and 
perfumed, shut off from all sounds of the outer world — one 
of those nests fitted and arranged to gratify the sensuality 
of passion and its need of mystery. 

Therese was seated in a low chair to the right of the 
chimney-piece. Resting her chin in her hand, she was 
gazing intently at the leaping flames. She did not turn her 
head at Laurent's entrance. Clothed in a petticoat and a 
short night-dress trimmed with lace, she looked ghastly 
white in the bright firelight. Her nightdress, loose at the 
neck, was slipping down, disclosing a bit of pink shoulder, 
half hidden by a tress of raven hair. 

THtiRfcSE RAQUIN. 153 

Laurent took a few steps without speaking. He removed 
his coat and waistcoat. When he was in his shirt-sleeves, he 
again looked at Therese, who had not moved. He seemed 
to hesitate. Then he perceived the bit of shoulder, and he 
bent down, trembling, to press his lips on this morsel of bare 
skin. The young woman withdrew her shoulder by turning 
abruptly round. She fixed oa Laurent so strange a look of 
fright and repugnance that he stepped back, troubled and ill 
at ease, as though himself seized with terror and disgust. 

Laurent sat down opposite Therese, on the other side of 
the fireplace. They remained thus silent, motionless, for 
five long minutes. Ever and anon the wood emitted jets of 
lurid flame, casting blood-red reflections upon the murderers' 

It was nearly two years since the lovers had found them- 
selves in a room alone together, unrestrained by other eyes. 
They had had no assignation since the day when Therese 
had gone to the Rue Saint- Victor, bringing Laurent the 
thought of murder in her wake. A feeling of prudence had 
weaned their carnal desires. They had scarce permitted 
themselves, at distant intervals, a pressure of the hand, a 
stolen kiss. After Camille's murder, when fresh desires were 
consuming them, they had controlled themselves, awaiting 
the wedding night, anticipating unbridled pleasure when 
they could enjoy it with impunity. And the wedding night 
had come at last, and they sat face to face, anxious, seized 
with a sudden uneasiness. They had but to stretch out 
their arms to clasp each other in a passionate embrace, 
and their arms drooped, as if already wearied and satiated 
with love. The despondency oppressing them all the day 
was crushing them more and more. They gazed at each 
other without desire, with a timid embarrassment, mutually 
pained at this coldness and silence. Their burning dreams 
had culminated in a strange reality ; it was enough that 


they had succeeded in getting rid of Camille, and becoming 
man and wife; it was enough that Laurent's lips had touched 
Therese's shoulder, for their licentious flame to be quenched 
in fear and loathing. 

Despairingly each sought to kindle some lingering spark 
of that passion which erst consumed them. They seemed 
without muscles and without nerves. Their embarrassment, 
their disquietude increased ; they felt ashamed at remaining 
thus silent and sad. Opposite one another, they longed for 
the energy to clasp each other madly, to avoid seeming 
despicable in their own eyes. What ! they were now 
united, they had destroyed a life, and acted an atrocious 
comedy, in order to be able to impudently wallow in con- 
tinual pleasure, and there they remained on either side of a 
fireplace, rigid, exhausted, troubled in mind, dead in body. 
Such a denouement seemed to them a cruel, horrible 
mockery. Then Laurent tried to speak of love, to evoke 
the memory of other days, appealing to his imagination to 
revive his tenderness. 

" Therese," said he, leaning towards the young woman, 
" do you remember our afternoons in this room? I used to 
come in by that door. To-day I came in by this one. We 
are free ; we can love each other in peace." 

He spoke gently, in a hesitating voice. The young 
woman, squatting on the low chair, continued gazing at the 
flame, dreamily, without listening. Laurent continued : 

" Do you remember ? I had a dream : I longed to pass 
a whole night with you, to fall asleep in your arms, and 
awake beneath your kisses in the morning. I am going to 
realise that dream." 

Therese made a movement as though of surprise at hear- 
ing a voice murmuring in her ears. She turned towards Lau- 
rent, whose face at the moment was lit up with a ruddy hue 
by the fire. She looked at this blood-red face and shuddered. 




gii iB l iiiit 

1111 llr'i 1 ' ??Sim 

III ill 


I i 1 ! 1 




The young man resumed, more troubled, more anxious : 

" We have succeeded, Therese, we have overcome every 
obstacle, and we now belong to each other. The future is 
ours, is it not 1 — a future of tranquil happiness, of satisfied 
love. Camille is no longer in the way." 

Laurent stopped, his throat parched, choking, unable to 
continue. At the mention of Camille, Therese had felt a 
shock which penetrated her vitals. The two murderers 
looked at each other, stupefied, pale, trembling. The yellow 
light from the grate was still dancing on the walls and ceil- 
ing ; the warm perfume of the roses hung about ; while the 
little sharp noise of crackling wood was heard in the silence. 

The flood-gates of memory were opened. Camille's spectre 
came and sat between the bride and bridegroom, in front of 
■ the blazing fire. Therese and Laurent felt the cold damp 
breath of the drowned man in the warm air they breathed ; 
they told themselves a corpse was there between them, and 
they looked at one another without daring to move. Then 
all the terrible story of their crime unrolled itself in their 
memory. The name of their victim sufficed to recall the 
past, to force them to- live over again the anguish of the 
murder. They did not open their lips, they gazed into 
each other's eyes, and they had simultaneously the same 
vision, they both experienced the agony of the same cruel 
story. This interchange of terror-stricken glances, this 
mute recital which they were about to give each other of 
the bloody deed, caused them an acute, intolerable dread. 
The tension of their nerves threatened an outburst ; they 
might scream, or even fight. To drive away these memories, 
Laurent, with a violent effort, tore himself from the terrify- 
ing influence of Therese's fixed gaze ; he walked up and 
down the room ; he took off his boots and put on his 
slippers ; then he returned to his seat in the chimney corner, 
and tried to converse on indifferent topics. 

156 THtfRftSE EAQUIN. 

Therese understood his desire. She forced herself to reply 
to his questions. They spoke of the weather, and of other 
trite subjects. Laurent declared the room was hot, Therese 
replied that there was a draught under the little door 
opening on the staircase, and they turned towards the little 
door with a sudden shiver. The young man hastened to 
speak of the roses, the fire, everything he could see ; the 
bride made an effort, and found some monosyllables, with 
which she tried to keep up the conversation. They had 
moved farther apart; they tried to look unconcerned, to 
forget their own identity, and to treat each other like 
strangers casually thrown together. 

But in spite of themselves, by a strange phenomenon, 
while pronouncing empty words, they mutually guessed the 
thoughts that each was trying to conceal behind common- 
place remarks. These thoughts ran persistently on Camille. 
With their eyes they continued the story of the past ; then- 
looks were holding a conversation, mute and sustained, 
beneath that other conversation kept up aloud, and which 
dragged on at random. The words they uttered now and 
again were devoid of meaning, disconnected, and contradic- 
tory ; their whole being was employed in the silent 
interchange of their horrible memories. When Laurent 
spoke of the roses or of the fire, Therese understood per- 
fectly well that he was reminding her of the struggle in the 
boat, of Camille's tragic end ; and, when Therese replied 
with yes or no to some trivial question, Laurent understood 
her to mean that she either remembered or forgot some 
detail connected with the crime. They thus conversed, 
heart to heart, without need of words, while talking of other 
things. Quite unconscious, moreover, of what their tongues 
said, they followed each other's secret thoughts as fast as 
they came into their heads ; they could have abruptly con- 
tinued this exchange of reminiscences aloud, without ceasing 


to understand each other. This kind of divination, this 
pertinacity of their memory in unceasingly presenting to 
their mental gaze the image of their victim, had for them a 
weird fascination ; they could see they understood each 
other, and that if they were not silent, the words would 
rush unbidden from their lips, naming the drowned man, 
describing the murder. Then they forced themselves to 
silence, and the conversation dropped. 

And yet, in the oppressive stillness that followed, these 
two murderers continued talking mutely of Camille. They 
felt as though their gaze mutually pierced their flesh, 
inserting in them clear and cutting words. At times they 
fancied they heard each other speaking aloud ; their senses 
deceived them, their sight seemed to become a strange and 
delicate sense of hearing ; they so clearly read their thoughts 
in their faces, that these thoughts assumed a strange and 
piercing sound which convulsed their frames. They could 
not have understood each other more plainly had they cried 
aloud in heartrending tones : " We have killed Camille, and 
his corpse is there stretched out between us, freezing our 
limbs." And still this exchange of terrible reminiscences 
continued, more visible, more audible, in the calm, moist 
atmosphere of the room. 

Laurent and Th^rese had begun the silent narrative from 
the day of their first meeting in the shop. Then the 
memories had crowded on in order ; they had detailed to 
each other the hours of voluptuousness, the moments of 
hesitation and anger, the awful instant of the murder. It 
was at this point that they had closed their lips, ceasing the 
trivial talk for fear of suddenly naming Camille without 
wishing to. And their thoughts, rushing on, had next 
hurried them to the agony of dread suspense following the 
crime. They thus arrived mentally at the spectacle of the 
corpse of the drowned man exposed on a slab at the Morgue. 


Laurent told Therese all his horror with a look, and Therese, 
losing her self-control, forced by an iron hand to open her 
lips, abruptly continued the conversation aloud : 

" You saw him at the Morgue 1 " asked she of Laurent, 
without naming Camille. 

Laurent seemed waiting for this question. He had been 
reading it for a minute past on the young woman's blanched 

" Yes," replied he, in hoarse accents. 

The murderers shuddered. They drew nearer the fire; 
they spread out their hands to the flame, as though an icy 
breath had suddenly passed through the warm room. They 
remained silent a moment, cowering, huddled up. Then 
Therese went on in hollow tones : 

" Did he appear to have suffered much ? " 

Laurent could not reply. He made a gesture of fright, as 
if to drive away some gruesome vision. He arose, went to- 
wards the bed, and returned violently, with open arms, 
towards Thirese. 

" Kiss me," he said, stretching his neck towards her. 

Therese had risen, pale and white in her night-dress ; she 
leant slightly back, one elbow resting on the marble mantel- 
shelf. She looked at Laurent's neck. On the white skin 
she had just noticed a pink spot. The surging blood, 
mounting through his veins, swelled this mark, which grew 
fiery red. 

" Kiss me, kiss me,'' repeated Laurent, his face and neck 
in a flame. 

The young woman held her head further back, to avoid a 
kiss, and, pressing the tip of her finger on the mark left by 
Camille's bite, she asked her husband : 

" What's that you've got there ? I never noticed you had 
that wound before.'' 

Laurent felt as if Therese's finger was piercing his throat. 

THtiKfcSE RAQUIN. 159 

At the touch of this finger, he shrank back quickly, with a 
cry of pain. 

" That," stammered he, " that—" 

He hesitated, but he could not lie ; he told the truth in 
spite of himself. 

" You know, it's where Camille bit me in the boat. It's 
nothing, it's already healed. Kiss me, kiss me ! " 

And the wretch held his burning neck towards her. He 
wanted Therese to kiss him on the scar, expecting that the 
kiss of this woman would soothe the thousand stings that 
were lacerating his flesh. He approached her with his chin 
raised and his neck towards her. Therese, almost reclining 
on the chimney-piece, made a gesture of supreme disgust, 
and cried out beseechingly : 

" Oh ! no, not there ! There is blood on it." 

She sank down again on the low chair, shuddering, and 
burying her face in her hands. 

Laurent seemed stunned. He lowered his chin and looked 
vaguely at Therese. Then, suddenly, with the grasp of a 
wild beast, he took her head in his great hands, and, by 
main force, pressed her lips on his neck on the mark left by 
Camille's bite. For a brief space he kept, he crushed, that 
woman's head against his skin. Therese had abandoned 
herself, uttering plaintive cries, feeling nearly suffocated on 
Laurent's neck. When she had disengaged herself from his 
hands, she wiped her mouth, violently, and spat in the fire. 
She had not uttered a word. 

Laurent, ashamed of his brutality, began pacing the room 
slowly, from the bed to the window. " It was only the 
suffering, the horrible smarting which had made him exact 
a kiss from Therese, and, when her cold lips had touched the 
burning scar, he had suffered still more. This kiss, extorted 
by violence, had quite shaken him. So painful had 
been the shock, that nothing would have induced him to 

160 THERESE raquin. 

receive a second. And he looked at the woman with whom 
he was to live, as she sat shivering over the fire, with her 
back towards him ; he told himself that he no longer loved 
this woman and that she no longer loved him. For nearly 
an hour Therese remained cowering there, while Laurent 
walked up and down in silence. Both acknowledged to 
themselves in dismay that their passion was extinct, that in 
killing Camille, they had killed their own desires. The 
fire was burning slowly out ; a bright red glow covered the 
ashes. Gradually the heat of the room had become 
suffocating ; the flowers were fading, filling the heavy air 
with their sickly perfume. 

Suddenly Laurent had a hallucination. As he was turn- 
ing round from the window to the bed, he saw Camille in a 
dark corner, between the chimney-piece and the glass door 
of the wardrobe. His victim's face was of a greenish hue 
and convulsed such as he had seen it on a slab at the Morgue. 
He stood rooted to the spot, fainting, supporting himself 
against the furniture. At the stifled cry he uttered, Therese 
looked up. 

" There, there," said Laurent, in a terrified voice. 

With outstretched arm he pointed to the dark corner in 
which he perceived Camille's ill-favoured face. Therese, also 
stricken with fear, came and pressed up against him. 

"It is his portrait," she whispered, as if her late husband's 
painted face could hear her. 

" His portrait," repeated Laurent, his hair rising on end. 

" Yes, you know, the portrait you painted. My aunt was 
to have had it in her room from to-day. She must have for- 
gotten to remove it.'' 

" Of course, it is only his portrait." 

The murderer could scarcely recognise the painting. In his 
confusion he forgot that he himself had drawn those hard 
features, represented in dirty tints which terrified him. 

PORTRAIT. p. 160. 


Fright made him see the portrait as it really was, mean, mis- 
shapen, discoloured, showing on a dark ground the distorted 
face of a corpse. His work surprised and horrified him by 
its atrocious ugliness ; there were especially the two white 
eyes, floating in soft, yellowish orbits, which reminded him 
forcibly of the decomposed eyes of the drowned man at the 
Morgue. He stood gasping, for a few moments, thinking 
that Therese had told a lie to reassure him. Then, recog- 
nising the frame, he grew more calm. 

"Go and take it down,'' said he in low tones to the young 

" Oh ! no, I'm afraid," replied the latter, with a shudder. 

Laurent began to tremble again. The frame at times 
seemed to disappear, and all he saw were the two white eyes, 
which gazed fixedly at him. 

" I entreat you," he resumed, in supplicating accents to 
his companion, " go and take it down." 

"No, no." 

" Then we'll turn it against the wall, and we shall cease 
to be frightened." 

" No, I really cannot." 

The assassin, cowardly and humble, pushed the young 
woman towards the canvas, hiding himself behind her to 
avoid the drowned man's gaze. She slipped from him, and 
he tried to put a bold face on the matter ; he approached 
the picture, raising his hand, seeking the nail. But the 
portrait had so crushing, so ignoble, so prolonged a look that 
Laurent, after trying to stare it out of countenance, was 
vanquished, and drew back, utterly dejected, murmuring : 

" No, you are right, Therese, we cannot. Your aunt will 
remove it to-morrow.'' 

He resumed his walk to and fro, bowing his head, feeling 
that the portrait was watching him, following him with ita 
eyes. In spite of himself, he glanced from time to time in 

162 THEftfcSE RAQUltf. 

the direction of the canvas ; ever, in the deep shadow, 
gleamed the dead, lack-lustre orbs of the drowned man. 
The notion that Camille was there, in a corner, watchiug 
him, assisting at his wedding night, examining him and 
Therese, drove Laurent nearly wild with terror and despair. 

Then too a circumstance, which in another would have 
caused a smile, sent him completely off his head. As he 
was passing the fire-place, he heard a sort of scratching 
noise. He turned pale, fancying this sound came from the 
portrait, and that Camille was coming out of the frame. 
But he found that the noise came from the little door 
opening on to the staircase. He looked at Therese who 
was again giving way to fear. 

" There is someone on the stairs," he murmured. " Who 
can have come that way 1 " 

The young woman made no reply. They both thought 
of the drowned man, an icy cold sweat moistened their 
brows. They fled to the farthest corner of the room, ex- 
pecting to see the door burst open, and the corpse of 
Camille fall on the floor. The noise continuing sharper, 
and more irregular, they thought their victim was tearing 
at the wood with his nails, to force an entrance. For 
nearly five minutes they durst not stir. Then they heard 
a distinct mewing. Laurent drew near and recognised 
Madame Eaquiu's tabby cat, who had been accidentally 
shut in the room, and who was trying to escape by shaking 
the little door with his claws. Francois was afraid of 
Laurent ; with one spring he leaped on to a chair ; bristling 
his coat and stiffening his limbs, he looked at his new 
master with a hard cruel gaze. The young man hated all 
cats, but Francois he was almost afraid of. In his present 
state of feverish alarm he thought the cat was going to 
spring at his face to avenge Camille. This animal probably 
knew all : there must be thoughts in those round eyes, so 


strangely dilated. Laurent lowered his eyelids before this 
dumb animal's fixed gaze. Just as he was on the point of 
kicking Francois, Therese said : 

"Do not hurt him." 

This request made a strange impression upon Laurent. An 
absurd idea filled his brain. 

" Camille has entered into the body of that cat," he 
thought. " I must kill the beast. He looks like a human 

He did not kick Frangois, dreading to hear the animal 
address him with Camille's voice. Then he recalled 
Th6rese's jokes, in the days of their voluptuous meetings, 
when the cat was a witness of their caresses. He said to 
himself that this creature knew too much and that he ought 
to pitch him out of the window. But he had not the 
courage to accomplish his design. Frangois maintained a 
hostile attitude ; showing his claws, and arching his back in 
sullen irritation, he followed with superb tranquillity his 
enemy's slightest movement. 

Laurent felt uneasy beneath the gaze of those metallic 
eyes ; he hastened to open the dining-room door, and the 
cat fled uttering a shrill mew. 

Therese had resumed her seat in front of the expiring 
fire. Laurent recommenced his walk from the bed to the 
window. Thus they awaited the morning. Neither thought 
of going to bed ; heart and flesh were equally numbed. 
One single longing possessed them, the longing to escape 
from this room which was stifling them. They felt really 
uncomfortable at being shut up together, at breathing the 
same air ; they would have preferred a third person to break 
up their tlte-a-tete, to extricate them from the cruel em- 
barrassment of finding themselves there with nothing to say, 
unable to resuscitate their passion. Their long intervals of 
silence tortured them; these intervals were full of bitter 


and despairing complaints, of mute reproaches, which they 
heard distinctly in the stillness of the night. 

Morning came at last, pale and murky, bringing a penetrat- 
ing chill in its train. 

As soon as the early light filled the room, Laurent who 
was shivering grew more calm. He looked straight at 
Camille's portrait, and saw it as it really was, crude and 
puerile ; he unhooked it, and, shrugging his shoulders, called 
himself a fool. The'rfese had risen and was rumpling the 
bed-clothes to deceive her aunt, and make her think they 
had passed a happy night. 

" I hope," said Laurent roughly, " that we shall sleep 
properly to-night. This childishness cannot go on." 

Therese looked at him gravely and thoughtfully. 

" You understand," he added, " I did not marry to pass 
sleepless nights. We have behaved like children. It was 
you who upset me with your funereal ways. To-night you 
must try to be cheerful and not to frighten me." 

He gave a forced laugh without knowing why. 

" I will try," replied the young woman in a hollow voice. 

Such was Th£rese's and Laurent's wedding night. 



The nights following were still more cruel. The murderers 
had wished to be two at night, to defend themselves against 
the drowned man, and, strange to tell, directly they found 
themselves together, they trembled more than ever. The 
mere interchange of a look, of a word, sufficed to exasperate 
them, to irritate their nerves in the highest degree, to bring 
on terrible paroxysms of suffering and terror. The simplest 
conversation, the most trivial t6te-a-tete between them was 
the signal for a species of delirium. 

Therese's hard nervous nature had aoted strangely on 
Laurent's dull, sanguine temperament. In the days of 
their passionate love this great contrast between the man 
and the woman had made them a couple powerfully united, 
establishing a sort of equilibrium between them, by com- 
pleting, so to speak, their organism. The lover brought his 
blood, his mistress her nerves, and they lived in each other, 
mutually yearning for the caresses which regulated the 
mechanism of their being. But this machinery was now out 
of gear ; Therese's over-excited nerves were in the ascendant. 
Laurent suddenly found himself a prey to a state of nervous 
erethism; under the young woman's ardent influence, his 
temperament had gradually become that of a girl stricken 
with an acute neurosis. It would be curious to study the 
changes which are sometimes produced in certain organiza- 
tions, resulting from definite circumstances, These changes 


which start from the flesh, soon communicate themselves to 
the brain, and from thence to the entire being. 

Before meeting Therese, Laurent had the heavy nature, 
the quiet prudence, the sanguine temperament, of a son 
of the soil. He ate, drank, and slept as an animal. At 
all hotirs, under all circumstances, he breathed heavily 
and plentifully, satisfied with himself, and slightly stulti- 
fied by his superabundant flesh. He had scarcely felt 
at times slight titillations in his thick frame. And it 
was these titillations that Therese had developed into 
horrible shocks. She had set in motion in this large, fat, 
and sluggish body, a nervous system of extraordinary sensi- 
bility. Laurent, who previously had enjoyed life more 
through his blood than his nerves, grewless coarse in his 
feelings. His mistress's first kisses suddenly revealed to 
him a new existence, poignant and nervous. This existence 
increased his enjoyments tenfold, gave so acute a character 
to his pleasures that he seemed at first to have nearly lost 
his senses ; he abandoned himself utterly to this acme of 
intoxication, which his blood had never procured him. 
Then a strange evolution took place within him ; his nerves 
developed, dominated the sanguine element, and this fact 
alone modified his nature. He lost his phlegmatic heaviness ; 
he no longer led a sleepy life. The day came when the 
blood and the nerves were evenly balanced; that was a 
moment of profound enjoyment and perfect existence. Soon 
the nerves gained the mastery, and he suffered the tortures 
which rack disordered bodies and minds. 

Thus it was that Laurent had cowered at a shadowy 
corner, like a timid child. The trembling, haggard creature, 
the new being which had evolved itself in him from the 
thick-skinned, heavy peasant, suffered the fears and anxieties 
of nervous temperaments. All the late events — TheVese's 
fierce caresses, the excitement of the murder, the frightful 


period of waiting — had nearly driven him mad by over- 
exciting his senses, and by abrupt and repeated strains upon 
his nerves. The sleeplessness was a fatal climax, bringing 
hallucination in its train. From that time Laurent had led 
an intolerable life, struggling against an eternal terror. 

His remorse was purely physical. His body, his irritated 
nerves and trembling flesh were alone in fear of the drowned 
man. His conscience was in nowise concerned with his 
terrors ; he did not in the least regret having killed Camille. 
In his calm moments, when the spectre was not haunting 
him, he would have committed the murder over again, if he 
had thought his interest required him to do so. In the day- 
time he laughed at his fears ; he resolved to be brave ; 
he rebuked Therese, whom he accused of alarming him. 
According to his account, it was Therese who trembled ; it 
was Therese alone who brought about appalling scenes, of 
an evening, in their room. And as soon as night came, as 
soon as he was shut in with his wife, a cold sweat came out 
upon his skin, childish fears pursued him. He thus suffered 
periodical crises, nervous attacks which returned every even- 
ing, which upset his senses by showing him the green, putrid 
face of his victim. They were like severe attacks of serious 
illness, a sort of hysteria of murder. An illness, a nervous 
affection was really the only term to apply to these terrors 
of Laurent. His face became convulsed, his limbs grew 
stiff. One could see his nerves becoming knotted. His 
body suffered acutely, his soul was undisturbed. The 
wretch felt no twinge of repentance. Therese's passion had 
filled him with a horrible agony, and that was all. 

Therese herself was also a prey to violent agitation. But 
in her case the original temperament had merely become 
unnaturally intensified. Ever since she was ten years old, 
this woman had been subject to nervous disorders, partly 
attributable to the way she had been reared in the tepid, 

1S8 therese raqutnt. 

nauseous air of the room in which little Camille hac 
struggled to live. Meanwhile storms were accumulating ii 
her — powerful fluids which were bound to burst fortl 
eventually in veritable tempests. Laurent had been for hei 
what she had been for Laurent — a sort of brutal shock 
From the first embrace of her lover, her hard, yet voluptuous 
temperament had developed with a savage energy. Sh( 
had then only lived for her passion. Abandoning hersel: 
more and more to the fevers which consumed her, she fel 
at last into a kind of sickly stupor. Events overwhelmed 
her ; everything drove her to madness. In her terror sh< 
showed her woman's nature ; she felt a vague remorse 
an unavowed regret ; she experienced a longing to throw 
herself on her knees and implore pardon of Camille's spirit 
swearing to appease him by repentance. Perhaps Laurent 
perceived this cowardice in Therese. When they wen 
agitated by a mutual terror, he abused her and treated hei 

They could not go to bed those first nights. They watchec 
for the dawn of day, sitting by the fire, or walking up anc 
down, like on the wedding night. The idea of lying sidebj 
side on the bed filled them with a sort of alarm and repug 
nance. By tacit consent they avoided caresses, not ever 
looking at the bed which Therese rumpled in the morning 
When overtaken by fatigue, they slept for an hour or tw< 
in easy-chairs, to awake with a start at the fatal denoue 
ment of some nightmare. At daylight, with stifFenei, tire( 
limbs and faces mottled with livid blotches, all shivering 
with cold and discomfort, they gazed stupidly at one another 
astonished to find themselves there, full of strange embarrass 
ment at the situation, of shame at the disclosure of thei: 
mutual terror and disgust. 

They struggled, moreover, as hard as they could, agains 
sleep. They sat at either side of the fire-place and chattec 


of a thousand trifles, carefully avoiding a lull in the conver- 
sation. There was a wide space between them, opposite the 
hearth. When they turned their heads, they imagined that 
Camille had brought a chair over and occupied this space, 
warming his feet in a lugubriously jeering manner. This 
vision, which had come to them on their wedding night, re- 
turned every night afterwards. This corpse, which assisted, 
silent and scornful, at their vigils, this frightfully disfigured 
body, which seemed to be ever there, plunged them in a 
continual alarm. They durst not stir ; they blinded them- 
selves staring at the burning flames, and when involuntarily 
they cast a timid glance aside, their eyes, irritated by the 
glowing coal, created the vision and gave it lurid reflections. 

Laurent would not, at last, sit down, though concealing 
the cause of his whim from Therese. She understood per- 
fectly that Laurent saw Camille as she did ; she declared in 
her turn that the heat was stifling, that she would feel 
better some distance from the fire. She moved her arm- 
chair to the foot of the bed, and remained there exhausted, 
while her husband resumed his pacing up and down the 
room. At times he would open the window, and let the cold 
January nights fill the room with their icy breath. This 
calmed his fever. 

For a week, the newly wedded pair thus passed the entire 
nights. They were worn out ; they dozed a little during the 
day — Therese behind the counter in the shop, Laurent at his 
office. At night they were a prey to anguish and terror. 
And the strangest thing of all was the attitude they main- 
tained towards each other. They uttered not one word of 
love ; they pretended to have forgotten the past ; they 
seemed to accept, to tolerate each other, as invalids feeling 
a secret pity for their common sufferings. They each hoped 
to conceal their disgust and their fears, and neither of them 
seemed aware of the strangeness of the nights they passed 


together, and which should have mutually enlightened them 
on the true state of their feelings. Sitting up all night, 
conversing at long intervals, starting at the slightest sound, 
they seemed to believe their conduct was like that of all 
young couples in their honeymoon. It was the clumsy 
hypocrisy of two fools. 

But their weariness became at length so overpowering 
that they made up their minds one night to lie down on the 
bed. They did not undress ; they threw themselves on the 
outside of the counterpane, fearing lest their flesh should 
come in contact. They seemed to dread some painful shock 
at the least touch. After sleeping an unquiet sleep in this 
way for two nights, they ventured to undress and to slip 
between the sheets. But they kept at either edge of the 
bed; they took precautions not to touch each other. 
Therese got in first, and lay close to the wall. Laurent 
waited until she was settled ; then he ventured to stretch 
his limbs at the outer side. This left a wide space between 
them. There reposed the corpse of the drowned man. 

When the two murderers were stretched beneath the same 
sheet, and had closed their eyes, they seemed to feel their 
victim's dripping body in the middle of the bed, freezing 
their flesh. It was like some ghastly obstacle separating 
them. They were in a fever, a delirium, and this obstacle 
became to them a real thing ; they touched the body ; they 
saw it laid out, like a piece of green and putrid flesh ; they 
inhaled the offensive odour of this mass of human corrup- 
tion. The illusion so overpowered them that their sensations 
became intolerably acute. The presence of this loathsome 
bed-fellow held them immovable, silent, devoured with 
anguish. Laurent sometimes thought of violently taking 
Th^rese in his arms ; but he was too frightened to move ; 
he told himself he could not stretch out his hand without 
catching hold of Camille's dank flesh. Then he imagined 


the corpse came and lay between them to prevent their 
gliding into each other's arms. He ended by understanding 
that the drowned man was jealous. 

Sometimes, however, they tried to exchange a timid kiss 
to see what would happen. The young man made fun of his 
wife and ordered her to embrace him. But their lips were 
so cold, that death seemed to have stepped in between their 
mouths. They felt sick; Therese shuddered with horror, 
and Laurent, who could hear her teeth chattering, got out 
of temper with her. 

" Why are you trembling 1 " he would ask. " Are you 
afraid of Camille 1 Nonsense, by this time there is no flesh 
left even on the poor fellow's bones." 

They avoided telling each other the cause of their shiver- 
ing fits. When in a vision the leaden-hued face of their 
victim appeared before one of them, he closed his eyes, shut- 
ting himself up in his terror, not daring to tell the other, 
for fear of causing a still more terrible climax. When 
Laurent, driven to extremity, in a fit of despair, accused 
Therese of being afraid of Camille, this name, uttered aloud, 
redoubled his agony. The murderer raved in delirium. 

"Yes, yes,'' he would stammer, addressing the young 
woman, " you are afraid of Camille. I can see it well 
enough ! You are a fool, you have not a spark of courage. 
Go and sleep in peace ! Do you suppose your first husband 
is going to drag you off by your feet, because I'm in bed 
with you?" 

This idea, this supposition that the drowned man could 
come and drag them by their feet made Laurent's hair 
stand on end. He continued, however, with more 
violence : 

" I must take you some night to the cemetery. We will 
open Camille's coffin, and you shall see the mass of corrup- 
tion ! Then you wiil get over your fear perhaps. Non- 


sense, what does he know of our having thrown him into 
the water?" 

Therese, her head buried in the sheets, uttered stifled 

" We drowned him to get rid of him," continued her 
husband. "We would do it again, eh.1 Then don't play 
the fool like that. Take courage. It is foolish to spoil our 
happiness. You see, my dear, when we die, we shall not be 
a bit better or worse off in the ground, because we chucked 
an idiot into the Seine, and we shall have had liberty to 
enjoy our love, which is an advantage. Come, kiss me." 

The young woman, icy cold and distracted, kissed him, 
while he was shivering all over as she was. 

For over a fortnight Laurent tried to think how he could 
kill Oamille over again. He had drowned him, and yet he 
was not dead enough, for he came and lay every night in 
Th^reso's bed. When the murderers thought to have got 
rid of him, and to be able to give themselves up in peace to 
the enjoyment of their passion, their victim appeared again 
to freeze their bridal bed. Therese was no widow, and 
Laurent found himself married to a woman who had already 
a drowned man for a husband. 



LAtrBBNT was gradually driven to the brink of madness. 
He resolved to drive Camille from his bed. He had begun 
by lying down without undressing, then he had avoided 
even touching TheYese's skin. Now, enraged, desperate, 
he wished at last to take his wife to his bosom, and to crush 
her in his arms, rather than leave her to his victim's ghost. 
It was a superb revolt of brutish passion. 

In short, the hope that Therese's kisses would cure his 
sleeplessness had alone brought him to her bedchamber. 
When he had found himself in this room as master, his 
flesh, rent by still more atrocious shocks, had no longer 
even thought of attempting the cure. And during three 
weeks he remained as though crushed, forgetting he had 
done all to possess Therese and unable to touch her without 
adding to his sufferings, now that she was all his own. 

The excess of his anguish roused him from this lethargy. 
In the first moment of stupor, in the strange dejection of 
the wedding night, he had somehow overlooked the reasons 
which had urged him to bring about the marriage. But 
from behind the reiterated shocks of his bad dreams, a dull 
irritation came over him conquering his cowardice and 
restoring his memory. He recollected he had married in 
order to chase away his nightmare with his wife pressed to 
his breast. So one night, he suddenly took Therese in his 
arms, and drew her violently to him, at the risk of passing 
over the body of the drowned man. 

The young woman was also at the end of her patience ; 


she would have thrown herself into the flames if she could 
have believed the fire would purge her flesh and deliver her 
from her woes. She returned Laurent his embraces, re- 
solved to be burnt by this man's caresses, or to find in them 
a consolation. 

And they were locked in a horrible embrace. Agony and 
terror replaced sensual desire. When their limbs touched 
each other, they felt as if they had fallen on burning coals. 
They uttered a cry and clung yet closer together, so as to 
leave no room between their bodies for the drowned man. 
And still they felt bits of Camille's flesh loathsomely crushed 
between them, freezing their skin in places while the rest of 
their bodies was on fire. 

Their embraces were frightfully cruel. Therese sought 
with her lips the mark of Camille's bite on Laurent's stiff 
and swollen neck, and she passionately fixed her mouth 
upon it. The festering sore was there; once that wound 
were healed, the murderers might sleep in peace. The 
woman understood this, she tried to cauterise the place with 
the heat of her caresses. But she only burnt* her lips, and 
Laurent pushed her violently from him with a moan of pain ; 
it seemed to him that a red-hot iron was being applied to his 
neck. Therese, beside herself, returned to him, wishing 
again to kiss the scar ; she experienced a keen voluptuous- 
ness in placing her mouth on that skin wherein Camille had 
buried his teeth. At one moment she even thought of biting 
her husband at that spot, of tearing out a large piece of 
flesh, of making a new and deeper wound, which should 
carry away all marks of the old one. And she felt she 
would not then turn pale at the sight of the mark of her 
own teeth. But Laurent defended his neck from her kisses ; 
he felt it smarting unbearably, he pushed her away each 
time she thrust out her lips. They struggled thus, disputing, 
quarrelling amid the horror of their caresses. 


They felt well enough they were but increasing their 
sufferings. In vain did they clasp each other in terrible 
embraces, they cried out with pain, they burnt and bruised 
each other, but they could not soothe their terrified nerves. 
Each embrace only increased the acuteness of their disgust. 
Whilst they were exchanging these frightful kisses, they 
were a prey to ghastly hallucinations ; they imagined the 
drowned man was pulling their feet, and violently shaking 
the bed. 

They let go of each other a moment, filled with disgust 
and an invincible nervous antipathy. But they would not 
be vanquished ; they once more clasped each other in a new 
embrace, and were yet again forced to loosen their hold by 
what seemed like red-hot darts piercing their limbs. Many 
times they tried thus to conquer their disgust, and to forget 
everything by wearying, by shattering, their nerves. And 
each time their nerves grew more irritated and strained, 
causing them such exasperation that they must have died of 
collapse had they continued in each pther's arms. This 
struggle with their own bodies had excited them to the point 
of fury ; they grew obstinate, they resolved to have their 
own way. At length a still sharper attack shattered them ; 
they received a shock of unheard-of violence, and they 
believed it was all over with them. 

Flung apart to the two edges of the bed, scorched and 
bruised, they began to sob. 

And, mingling with their sobs, they seemed to hear the 
jeering laugh of the drowned man, who again slipped in 
under the sheet in triumph. They had been poweiless to 
chase him from the bed ; they were vanquished. Camille 
stretched himself gently between them, while Laurent wept 
at his powerlessness, and ThenSse trembled to think the 
corpse might take a fancy to profit by his victory and clasp 
her in his turn in his putrid arms as her legitimate lord 


They had tried a supreme remedy; they felt that, in 
presence of their defeat, they would never again dare to 
exchange the slightest caress. The sensual passion which 
they had tried to force in order to quell their terrors, had 
just plunged them into still deeper dread. Feeling the icy 
presence of this corpse which would now separate them for- 
ever, they wept tears of blood, asking themselves in their 
anguish what would become of them. 



The Thursday evenings were gaily resumed, the day after 
the wedding, as old Miohaud had hoped, when he worked so 
hard to bring about the marriage of Therese and Laurent. 
These gatherings seemed doomed at the time of Camille's 
death. The guests only ventured to present themselves 
timidly in the house of mourning ; each week they trembled 
to receive a final dismissal. Michaud and Grivet were such 
creatures of habit that they thought of the possibility of 
Madame Raquin's door being closed against them with feelings 
of apprehension. They feared that the old mother and the 
young widow would go off one fine morning to mourn the 
dear departed at Vernon or elsewhere, and that they would 
thus be stranded on Thursday evenings, not knowing what 
to do with themselves ; they saw themselves in fancy 
wandering helplessly about the Passage, dreaming of gigantic 
games at dominoes. While awaiting these evil days, they 
timidly enjoyed their last pleasures, coming with a gentle 
troubled manner to the shop, repeating each time that per- 
haps they might not return. For more than a year they 
felt this uneasiness, they did not dare to laugh and joke in 
presence of Therese's silence and Madame Raquin's tears. 
They did not feel so much at home as in Camille's life time ; 
they seemed as if they stole each evening they passed around 
the dining-room table. It was under these desperate cir- 
cumstances that old Michaud's selfishness prompted him to 
make a master-stroke in finding a husband for the young 



On the first Thursday after the wedding, Grivet and 
Michaud made a triumphal entry. They had conquered. 
The dining-room was once more free to them, they no longer 
feared a polite dismissal. They arrived radiant, they lounged 
about, they repeated one after the other all their old jokes. 
One could see by their happy, confident attitude that for 
them a great change had taken place. Camille's memory 
no longer troubled them ; the dead husband, that spectre 
which had frozen them, had been banished by the living 
husband. The past was revived with all its joys. Laurent 
replaced Camille, all reason for grief had disappeared, the 
guests could laugh without causing pain to anyone, and it 
was even their duty to laugh, to enliven the excellent family 
who were so kind as to receive them. From that time, 
Grivet and Michaud, who for about eighteen months had 
called, under the pretext of consoling Madame Eaquin, could 
put aside their little hypocrisy, and come openly to fall 
asleep opposite each other, to the sharp sound of the 

And each week brought its Thursday evening, each week 
gathered once around the table these grotesque and lifeless 
heads which used formerly to exasperate Therese so much. 
She now talked of getting rid of them all ; they irritated her 
with their silly laughs and stupid remarks. But Laurent 
showed her that such a dismissal would be a mistake ; 
they should study to make the present as much as possible 
resemble the past, above all must they preserve the 
friendship of the police, of those idiots who protected them 
from all suspicion. Therese yielded ; the guests, well 
treated, saw before them with delight a long interminable 
succession of pleasant evenings. 

It was about this time that the lives of the young couple 
seemed to diverge in a measure. 

Every morning, as soon as daylight had chased away the 


terrors of the night, Laurent dressed himself in all haste, 
He was not at his ease, he did not resume his selfish calm 
until he found himself in the dining-room, seated before a 
large bowl of coffee, which Th6rese prepared for him. Ma- 
dame Raquin, growing very infirm, and hardly able to go 
down to the shop, watched him drink it with a maternal 
smile. He swallowed slices of toasted bread, he stuffed his 
stomach full, he gained courage by degrees. After his coffee, 
he drank a small glass of brandy That completely set him 
up. Then after saying "Good-bye till this evening,'' to 
Madame Raquin and Therese, without ever offering to kiss 
them, he strolled off to his office. Spring came, the leaves 
covered the trees on the quays with a light lace-work of 
tender green. The river flowed beneath, with a caressing 
sound ; the sun shone above with a gentle warmth. Laurent 
felt that the fresh air gave him new life ; he drank it in deeply 
under those April and May skies ; he sought the sunny side, 
he lingered by the Seine to watch the silvery reflections upon 
its waters, listening to the sounds on the quays, inhaling 
the pungent odours of the morning, enjoying through every 
sense the clear and lovely days. He scarcely ever thought 
of Camille ; sometimes though he mechanically contem- 
plated the Morgue, from the other side of the water, and 
it was then he would pluckily think of the drowned man 
with a feeling of contempt for his former fears. 

With a full stomach, and a clean face, he recovered his 
heavy tranquillity, arrived at his office, and passed the 
entire day there, yawning and waiting for the hour of dis- 
missal. He was nothing but a clerk like the others, bored, 
empty-headed. His sole fixed idea at this time was to leave 
his present employment and to hire a studio. He had 
vague dreams of a new life of idleness, and this was enough 
to occupy his mind until the evening. Not once was he 
troubled with a thought of the shop in the Passage. In the 


evening, after having longed since the morning for the hour 
of dismissal, he left the office reluctantly, returning along 
the quays with a vague feeling of disquiet. In vain did he 
walk slowly, the shop must be reached sooner or later. 
And there, terror awaited him. 

Thirese experienced the same sensations. So long as 
Laurent was not with her she felt at ease. She had dis- 
missed the charwoman, saying that the work was sadly 
neglected, that everything was dirty both in the shop and 
in the rooms. Thoughts of keeping things in order came to 
her. The real truth was that she felt impelled to walk, to 
act, to tire out her stiffened limbs. She was busy the whole 
morning, sweeping, dusting, cleaning the rooms, washing 
up the plates and dishes, doing work that would have dis- 
gusted her in former times. From early morning until 
noon, these household duties kept her on her legs, active 
and silent, giving her no time for other thoughts than the 
cobwebs hanging from the ceiling, and the grease on the 
dirty plates. Then she went to the kitchen to prepare the 
lunch. At table, Madame Eaquin was worried at seeing 
her constantly jump up to change the plates and fetch the 
dishes. She was concerned and annoyed by the activity 
displayed by her niece. She scolded her, and Therese 
replied that economy was necessary. 

After the meal the young woman would dress herself, and 
at length join her aunt behind the counter. There, drowsi- 
ness overcame her. Worn out with sleepless nights, she 
dozed off, yielding to the voluptuous torpor which seized 
upon her as soon as she was seated. These were only light 
slumbers, full of a vague charm, which calmed her nerves. 
The thought of Camille was banished. She tasted the pro- 
found repose of sick people who suddenly lose their pain. 
She felt her flesh relaxed, her mind relieved, plunged into a 
soft, refreshing lethe. Had it not been for these moments 

THtiKfeSE KAQUlN. 181 

of rest, her organism must have broken down under the 
tension of her neryous system. She derived from them the 
strength necessary to suffer pain and terror on the following 
night. Besides, she did not really sleep, she hardly closed 
her lids, sunk in a peaceful dream. When a customer came 
in she opened her eyes, served the few sous' worth of what- 
ever was required, and then relapsed into her floating 

She would thus pass three or four hours, perfectly happy, 
replying in monosyllables to her aunt, giving herself up 
with real enjoyment to the swoons which banished thought 
and sank her into oblivion. She rarely even glanced down 
the Passage, feeling herself especially at ease in cloudy 
weather, when everything was dim and she could hide her 
lassitude in the depths of the shadow. The damp loathsome 
Passage, used by a crowd of poor wet devils whose umbrellas 
dripped on the flagstones, seemed to her the entrance to 
some bad place, a kind of dirty corridor of evil omen, where 
no one would come to seek or trouble her. Sometimes, on 
beholding the dull glimmer hovering about her, and smel- 
ling the peculiar odour of the dampness, she would imagine 
she had been buried alive ; she would fancy herself deep 
down under ground, in a common grave swarming with 
corpses. And this thought soothed her, comforted her; she 
felt safe then, at the point of death, which was about to end 
her sufferings. 

At other times she had to keep her eyes open ; Suzanne 
would pay her a visit and sit beside the counter with her 
embroidery the whole afternoon. Olivier's wife, with her 
soft face and slow gestures, now quite pleased Th^rese 
who found a strange consolation in watching this poor 
creature as she gradually wasted away; she had made 
a friend of her, she liked having her there, smiling with 
a pale smile, living a half life, pervading the shop 


with the faint odour of a cemetery. When Suzanne 
looked at her with those blue eyes of glassy transparency, 
she felt a cold beneficent thrill pass through her frame. 
Therese would remain thus till four o'clock. Then she re- 
turned to the kitchen, she sought fresh fatigue, and pre- 
pared Laurent's dinner with feverish haste. But when her 
husband appeared on the threshold, a lump came in her 
throat, and her whole being again writhed with anguish. 

Day after day the sensations of the couple were much the 
same. During the daytime, when they were apart, they 
tasted hours of delicious repose ; in the evening, as soon as 
reunited, they were filled with poignant uneasiness. 

They had, however, quiet evenings. Therese and Laurent, 
who shuddered at the thought of going to their room, sat 
up as long as possible. Madame Raquin, reclining in a 
large lounge chair, was placed between them, and chatted 
away with her placid voice. She talked of Vernon, thinking 
ever of her son, but avoiding his name from a feeling of 
delicacy ; she smiled at her dear children, she made plans 
for their future. The lamp cast pale gleams on her white 
face ; her voice assumed a wonderful softness in the death- 
like, silent air. And seated on either side, the two murderers, 
silent, motionless, seemed quietly listening to her; in reality, 
they made no attempt to follow the sense of the old lady's 
chatter, they were simply happy at this sound of soft words, 
which drowned in them the voices of their thoughts. They 
dared not look at each other, they looked at Madame Raquin 
to give themselves countenance. They never spoke of retir- 
ing to rest, they would have remained there until morning, 
with the old woman's caressing twaddle ringing in their ears, 
in the peacefulness which she created around her, if she had 
not herself expressed a wish to get to her bed. Not till then 
did they leave the dining-room and retire, in despair, to their 
chamber to throw themselves into the depths of an abyss. 


To these quiet evenings they soon infinitely preferred the 
Thursday gatherings. When they were alone with Madame 
Eaquin, they could not shake off their thoughts ; tbe thin 
thread of the aunt's voice, her tender gaiety could not stifle 
the cries which were rending them. They felt the hour 
approaching when they must go to bed, they trembled when, 
by accident, their eyes met on their bed-room door; the 
waiting for the moment when they would be alone became 
more and more cruel as the evening wore on. Whereas, on 
the Thursdays, they were brimful of nonsense, they each 
forgot the other's presence, they suffered less. Therese her- 
self began, at last, to ardently long for the reception days. 

If Michaud and Grivet had not come, she would have gone 
to fetch them. When there were strangers in the dining- 
room between her and Laurent she felt more calm; she 
would have liked to have always had guests there, with 
plenty of noise, anything that would distract her thoughts, 
and isolate her. In society she displayed a sort of nervous 
gaiety. Laurent, too, brought out his clownish jokes, his 
hearty laughs, his studio witticisms. The receptions had 
never been so gay or so noisy. 

Thus Laurent and Therese were able to meet, once a week, 
without trembling. 

A new alarm soon overtook them. Paralysis was making 
rapid strides with Madame Kaquin, and they foresaw the 
day when she would be fixed in her arm-chair, impotent and 
stupefied. The poor old woman began to stammer forth 
disconnected phrases ; her voice grew weaker, her limbs 
were dying one by one. She was becoming a thing. Therese 
and Laurent watched with terror the decay of this being 
who separated them still, and whose voice drew them away 
from their bad dreams. When Madame Eaquin's mind 
failed and she remained silent and motionless in her arm- 
chair, they would find themselves alone; in the evenings 


they would no longer be able to escape the dreaded tete-a- 
tete. Then their horrors would begin at six o'clock instead 
of at midnight ; they would go mad. 

They used every effort to preserve to Madame Eaquin a 
health which to them was so precious. They had medical 
advice, they were full of little attentions, they even found 
in this new occupation of sick-nursing a forgetfulness, a 
peacefulness which made them redouble their zeal. They 
wished on no account to lose a third presence which made 
their evenings just bearable ; they dreaded the dining-room 
and the whole house becoming haunted like their owu room. 
Madame Kaquin was deeply touched by their unremitting 
attentions ; she tearfully congratulated herself at having 
united them and given up to them her forty and odd thou- 
sand francs. Her son being dead, she had never hoped for 
such devotion in her last hours ; her helpless old age was 
quite softened by the tenderness of her dear children. She 
scarcely felt the implacable paralysis which, notwithstanding, 
was creeping upon her day by day. 

Meanwhile Therese and Laurent lived their dual existence. 
In each there were, so to say, two distinct beings : one 
nervous and terrified, who trembled at the approach of night, 
the other numbed and forgetful, who breathed freely with 
the first rays of the sun. They led two lives, they cried 
with anguish when alone, they smiled tranquilly when in 
company. Never, before others, did their countenances 
betray the sufferings to which they were a prey in private ; 
they then appeared calm and happy, instinctively concealing 
their woes. 

Judging from their serenity during the day, no one could 
have suspected the visions which tortured them at night. 
They were looked upon as a happy pair, blessed by Heaven, 
living in perfect bliss. Grivet gallantly called them " the 
turtle-doves." When their eyes had dark rims through pro- 


longed sleeplessness, he chaffed them, and asked when the 
baptism would be. And everyone laughed. Laurent and 
Therese scarcely turned pale, and managed to smile ; they 
grew accustomed to the old clerk's rather broad jokes. As 
long as they remained in the dining-room they could master 
their fears. No one would have guessed the frightful change 
produced in them, as soon as they were shut up together in 
their bed-room. On Thursday evenings especially, this con- 
trast was so brutally violent that it had the effect of some- 
thing supernatural. The drama of their nights, by its 
weirdness, by its savage fury, surpassed all belief and re- 
mained hidden in the depths of their agonized beings. Had 
they given it utterance they would have been set down as 
raving maniacs. 

" How happy those young lovers are ! " was old Michaud's 
frequent remark. " They do not talk much, but they think 
the more. I bet they devour each other with caresses when 
we are no longer there to see.'' 

This was the general opinion. Therese and Laurent were 
held up as a model pair. The whole Passage du Pont-Keuf 
admired the affection, the tranquil happiness, the eternal 
honeymoon of the young couple. They alone knew that 
Camille's corpse lay stretched between them ; they alone 
felt beneath the calm exterior of their faces those nervous 
contractions which, at night, horribly distorted their features 
and changed the placid expression of their faces into a couple 
of loathsome and woeful masks. 



Fotje months after his marriage, Laurent resolved to reap 
the material benefit that was to be derived from it. He 
would have deserted his bride and fled from the spectre of 
Camille three days after the wedding, if self-interest had 
not held him to the shop in the Passage. He accepted his 
nights of terror, he remained on the scene of the anguish 
which stifled him, in order not to lose the profits of his crime. 
If he left Therese, he would be plunged in poverty, and 
forced to retain his situation ; by remaining with her, he 
could, on the contrary, gratify his idle nature, and live lux- 
uriously while doing nothing, on the money which Madame 
Eaquin had invested in his wife's name. It is more than 
probable that he would have bolted with the forty thousand 
francs, if he had had the power of realizing them ; but the 
old woman, with Michaud's advice, had taken the precaution 
of settling them on her niece. Laurent found himself, in 
consequence, joined to his wife by a very potent tie. As a 
compensation for his atrocious nights, he wished at least to 
revel in a happy indolence, well fed, well clothed, and with 
money in his pocket to satisfy every whim. At this price 
only he consented to sleep with the drowned man's corpse. 

One evening he told Madame Eaquin and his wife that he 
had resigned his post, and would leave the office at the 
end of the fortnight. Therese showed her uneasiness. Ho 
hastened to add that ho was going to hire a little studio, 
where he would resume painting. He expatiated on the 
tedium of his present employment, on the vast possibilities 


opened to him by art. Now that he had a little money in 
his pocket, and could make a hid for success, he would see 
if he was not capable of great things. The tirade which he 
declaimed on this subject merely hid a wild longing to 
resume his old artist life. 

Thdrfese sat silent, with lips compressed. She had no in- 
tention that Laurent should waste the modest fortune which 
ensured her independence. When her husband pressed her 
with questions, so as to obtain her consent, she replied very 
sharply. She gave him to understand that if he left his 
office he would be earning nothing, and living entirely at her 
expense. While she spoke, Laurent looked at her with such 
an evil expression that she was quite upset, and the refusal 
she was about to utter stuck in her throat. She thought 
Bhe could read in her accomplice's eyes this awful threat : 
" I will confess all if you do not consent." She stammered 
out something vague. Madame Raquin then explained that 
her dear son's wish was very laudable, and that he ought to 
be provided with the means of developing his talent. The 
good woman spoilt Laurent as she had spoilt Camille. She 
was quite won by the caresses the young man lavished on 
her ; she belonged to him, and always agreed with what he 

So it was settled that the artist should hire a studio, and 
receive a hundred francs a month for necessary outlay. The 
family budget was regulated as follows : — The profits of the 
haberdashery business would pay the rent of the shop and 
rooms, and almost suffice for the daily household expenses. 
Laurent would take the rent of his studio and his hundred 
francs a month out of the two thousand and odd francs of 
income ; the remainder of this income would be applied to 
the general family expenses. In this way the capital would 
remain intact. Therese became more easy. She made her 
husband swear that he would never go beyond his allow- 


anoe. And then she consoled herself with the thought that 
Laurent could not touch her forty thousand francs without 
her signature, and she was determined not to sign any 

As early as the following day, Laurent hired a small 
studio, which he had had his eye upon for a month past, 
towards the bottom of the Eue Mazarine. He was resolved 
not to give up his present work without having a haven 
where he could spend his days quietly away from Th^rese. 
At the end of the fortnight, he bade adieu to his fellow- 
clerks. Grivet was amazed at his departure. A young 
man, said he, who had such a brilliant future before him — 
a young man who, in four years, had attained the position 
in the office that he, Grivet, had toiled for twenty years to 
achieve ! Laurent astonished him still more when he in- 
formed him that he was going to devote himself entirely to 

At length the artist was installed in his studio. This 
studio was a sort of square attic, five or six yards either 
way ; the ceiling sloped abruptly with a sharp incline, and 
was pierced by a broad window, which admitted a glaring 
white light on the floor and on the blackish walls. The 
noises of the street did not mount so high. The room, 
silent, bare, opening upwards to the sky, was like a hole, a 
vault cut out of grey clay. Laurent furnished this vault 
after a fashion ; he brought in two worn-out cane chairs, a 
table which had to lean against the wall for support, an old 
kitchen dresser, his box of colours and his old easel. The 
only luxury in the place was a large divan which he bought 
at a second-hand dealer's for thirty francs. 

He remained a fortnight without even thinking of touch- 
ing his brushes. He used to come at eight or nine in the 
morning, smoke, lounge on the couch, and wait till it struck 
twelve, happy in the thought that the day was still young, 

THfiRftSE RAQUTN. 189 

with many long hours before its close. At twelve o'clock 
he went home to lunch, then hastened back to be alone, and 
no longer behold Therese's pale face. Then he digested, 
slept, lolled about until evening. His studio was a peaceful 
spot where he left off trembling. One day his wife proposed 
paying a visit to his dear sanctum. He refused, and as she 
came and knocked at the door in spite of his refusal, he did 
not open ; he told her in the evening that he had spent the 
day studying at the Louvre. He feared Th^rese would 
bring Canaille's spectre in her wake. 

At last he became tired of this utter idleness. He bought 
some canvas and fresh colours, and set to work. Unable to 
afford living models, he resolved to paint according to his 
fancy, without troubling about nature. He commenced a 
man's head. 

He now no longer shut himself up so much ; he worked 
for two or three hours every morning, and spent his after- 
noons abroad, strolling about Paris and the suburbs. One 
day, when returning from one of these long walks, he met, 
opposite the Institute, his old college chum, who had 
obtained great success at the last Salon. 

"What, you!" exclaimed the painter. "Ah, my poor 
Laurent, I should never have known you. How thin you 
have grown ! " 

" I'm married," replied Laurent, in an embarrassed tone. 

" Married, you ! Then I don't wonder at the change. 
What are you doing now ] " 

"I've hired a small studio; I paint a little in the 

Laurent gave him a hurried account of his marriage ; 
then he feverishly described his future projects. His friend 
looked at him with an astonished expression which troubled 
and disquieted him. The truth was that the artist no longer 
recognised in Therese's husband the common, clumsy fellow 


Le had formerly known. Laurent seemed to him to have 
lecome refined ; his face was thinner and interestingly pale ; 
lis whole figure seemed more dignified and supple. 

" You are growing quite good-looking," the artist could not 
esist saying ; " you have the air of an ambassador. You 
re really stylish. At what school are you studying ? " 

This cross-examination was most irksome to Laurent. Nor 
[id he like to leave his friend abruptly. 

" Would you like to come up to my studio V he at length 
,sked his friend, who did not seem inclined to leave him. 

" Very much," replied he. 

The paiuter, unable to account for the great change he 
wticed, was anxious to visit his old comrade's studio. He 
lad certainly no intention of mounting five stories merely to 
ee Laurent's work, which he expected would be sure to 
lisgust him ; he simply wished to gratify his curiosity. 

After reaching the attic and glancing at the paintings on 
he walls, his astonishment redoubled. There were five 
itudies, two women's heads and three men's, painted with 
iecided power : the treatment was solid and effective, each 
letail was brought out with magnificent touches on a trans- 
ient grey ground. The artist hastened to examine them, 
md was so amazed that he did not try to hide his astonish- 
ment : 

" Is this really your work ? " asked he of Laurent. 

" Yes," replied the latter. " They are sketches which 
vill be useful to me in a large picture I am projecting." 

"Come, no humbug; did you really paint these studies?" 

"Yes, I did. Why not?" 

The painter did not like to reply : " Because they are the 
vork of a true artist, and you were never more than a 
y retched dauber." He remained a long time silently exam- 
ning the studies. They were decidedly crude, but they had 
i peculiarity, a character so powerful that they announced a 


most highly developed artistic feeling. The painting was 
life-like. Laurent's friend had never seen outlines so full of 
great promise. When he had thoroughly examined them, 
he turned to Laurent : 

" Frankly," said he, " I did not think you capable of 
painting like this. Where the deuce did you get your talent 1 
It is not a thing to be learnt." 

And he looked at Laurent, whose voice seemed to him 
gentler, whose every movement had a certain elegance. 
Little could he guess what terrible shock had changed this 
man, developing in him the nerves of a woman, delicate, and 
sensitive. There is no doubt that a strange revolution had 
taken place in the temperament of Camille's murderer. It 
is difficult for analysis to penetrate these depths. Laurent 
had possibly become an artist as he had become a coward, 
as a consequence of the subversion of his entire physical and 
moral system. Formerly, he was stifling under the heavy 
weight of his blood, he was blinded by the thick atmosphere 
of health which enveloped him ; now, fallen away, trembling, 
he had the restless spirit, the quick and sharp sensations of 
nervous natures. In the life of terror which he led, his 
mind went beyond itself and wandered into the rapture of 
genius ; the disorder, in a measure a moral one, the nervous 
affection which changed his whole being, developed in him 
an artistic feeling extraordinarily brilliant ; since he had 
killed Camille, his flesh was as though disburdened, his dis- 
tracted brain seemed to have grown immense, and, in this 
sudden accession of mind, he had exquisite mental visions, a 
poet's reveries. And it was thus that his gestures had 
acquired a sudden polish, it was thus that his works 
were really laudable becoming in a moment original and 

His friend tried no further to fathom the sudden birth of 
this artist. He went off in surprise. As he was leaving the 


192 THtiRfcSE EAQUIN. 

studio, he gave a parting glance at the studies and said to 
Laurent : 

" I have only one fault to find, and that is that all your 
studies have a family likeness. These five heads resemble 
each other. Even the women have a kind of hard look 
which makes one think they are men in disguise. Tou see, 
if you are contemplating a large painting with these heads 
introduced, you must alter some of the faces ; your personages 
cannot all be brothers and sisters, that would be ridiculous." 

He left the studio, and, when on the landing, added with 
a laugh : 

" I am very glad, old fellow, to have met you. I shall 
henceforth believe in miracles. Heavens ! what a swell you 
are ! " 

He went downstairs while Laurent re-entered the studio in 
great perturbation. When his friend had remarked that all 
these studies of heads had a family likeness, he had turned 
quickly aside to conceal his paleness. For this fatal resem- 
blance had already struck him. He slowly returned to the 
paintings ; and as he gazed upon them, going from one to 
the other, a cold perspiration gathered on his back. 

" He is right," he murmured ; " they are all alike. They 
are like Camille." 

He drew back and sat down on the divan, without being 
able to keep his eyes off the studies of heads. The first was 
the face of an old man, with a long, white beard ; beneath 
this beard the artist could picture Camille's receding chin. 
The second represented a fair young girl, and this young girl 
gazed at him with his victim's blue eyes. The three other 
faces possessed each some feature of the drowned man. It 
was as if Camille had been disguised to represent an old 
man, a young girl, and every character in which the artist 
chose to sketch him, but retaining in each study the general 
lineaments of his face. There was another terrible point 



p. 192. 


of resemblance between these heads ; they appeared to be 
suffering and terrified, they seemed as though crushed be- 
neath the same feeling of horror. Each had a slight wrinkle 
on the left corner of the mouth, which dragged the lips and 
distorted them. This wrinkle, which Laurent remembered 
seeing on the drowned man's convulsed features, gave them 
a mark of low parentage. 

Laurent now saw that he had looked too long at Camille 
at the Morgue. The image of the corpse had been indelibly 
stamped on his memory. Now, his hand was involuntarily 
but continually tracing the features of that loathsome face 
the memory of which followed him everywhere. 

Presently, the painter, who was now leaning back on the 
divan, imagined he saw the faces come to life. And he 
beheld five Camilles before him, five Camilles powerfully 
created by his own fingers, and who, by a horrible caprice, 
were of all ages and both sexes. He rose up, hacked the 
paintings to pieces, and threw them outside. He felt he 
would die of fright in his studio, if he- peopled it himself 
with portraits of his victim. 

An awful dread had seized him : he feared he had not the 
power to sketch any other head but that of the drowned 
man, He wished at once to ascertain if he was master of 
his own hand. He placed a clean canvas on the easel ; then 
with a bit of charcoal he drew the rough outline of a face. 
It was Camille's. Laurent hastily rubbed the sketch out 
and tried another. For a whole hour he struggled against 
the fatality which guided his fingers. At each fresh trial 
he returned to the drowned man's head. In vain did he 
command his will, and resolve to avoid those well-known 
features ; in spite of himself, he traced those lines, he obeyed 
his muscles and his rebellious nerves. At first he had 
sketched rapid outlines ; he next made a point of guiding 
the charcoal slowly. The result was the same : Camille, 



distorted with agony, invariably appeared upon the 

The artist sketched successively heads the most varied, 
angels, virgins with aureolas, Roman warriors wearing their 
helmets, fair rosy children, old brigands covered with scars ; 
always, always, the face of the drowned man appeared, he 
was in turn angel, virgin, warrior, child and brigand. Then 
Laurent tried caricature, he exaggerated the features, drew 
monstrous profiles, invented grotesque heads, and only suc- 
ceeded in making more horrible the striking portraits of his 
victim. He finished by designing animals, dogs and cats; 
the dogs and cats vaguely recalled Camille. 

A blind rage took possession of Laurent. He banged his 
fist through the canvas, thinking despairingly of his great 
picture. Now he must give up the thought for ever ; he 
felt that in future he could draw no face but Camille's, and, 
as his friend had remarked, faces that all resembled each 
other so closely would be ridiculous. He conjured up in 
imagination what his great work would have been ; he 
beheld on the shoulders of each of his personages, both men 
and women, the drowned man's wan and terrified features ,- 
the strange spectacle thus evoked exasperated him with its 
atrocious absurdity. 

He would no longer therefore dare to paint, he would 
always be dreading to resuscitate his victim with the faintest 
touch of his brush. If he wished for peace in his studio he 
must never paint there. The thought that his fingers had 
the fatal faculty of constantly reproducing Camille's likeness 
caused him to look upon his hand with terror. It seemed to 
him that the hand was no longer his. 



The attack which had been threatening Madame Eaquin 
overtook her at last. The paralysis, which for months had 
been creeping along her limbs, ever on the point of envelop- 
ing her, suddenly grasped her at the throat and held her as 
in a vice. One evening, when she was quietly conversing 
with Therese and Laurent, she stopped in the middle of a 
sentence with her mouth open : she felt as though she were 
being strangled. When she tried to call out for help, she 
could only stammer hoarse sounds. Her tongue had become 
like stone. Her hands and feet had grown rigid. She 
found herself struck motionless and dumb. 

Therese and Laurent jumped up, terrified at this thunder- 
bolt, which, in less 4han five seconds, had doubled up the 
poor sufferer. When she was perfectly stiff, and gazed at 
them with beseeching eyes, they pressed her with questions 
to know the cause of her sufferings. She was unable to 
answer, she continued to look at them with profound 
anguish. Then they understood that they had nothing 
more than a corpse before them, a half living corpse, who 
saw what they did and heard what they said, but could not- 
speak to them. They were in despair ; not that they really 
cared about the sufferings of the poor paralytic, they grieved 
for themselves, dreading the eternal tete-a-tete they would 
have to pass in the future. 

From this day, the life of the couple became intolerable. 
They passed cruel evenings, in company with the infirm old 
woman who could no longer lull their fears to rest with her 


gentle prattle. She lay in her easy-chair like a bundle, 
like a mere thing, and they sat alone at the opposite ends 
of the table, embarrassed and anxious. This living corpse 
no longer separated them ; occasionally they forgot her, they 
confused her with the furniture. Then they were seized 
with their nocturnal fears, the dining-room became, like 
their bedroom, a terrible place wherein Camille's spectre 
rose before them. In this way they suffered four or five 
hours more each day. They trembled from the beginning 
of twilight, lowering the lamp-shade to prevent seeing each 
other, trying to believe Madame Kaquin was about to speak 
and thus remind them of her presence. If they kept her 
there and did not get rid of her, it was because her eyes 
retained their life and it was sometimes a comfort to watch 
them move and shine. 

They always placed the sufferer immediately under the 
lamp, so as to throw the light full upon her face and ever 
have it before them. This poor wan face would have been 
an unbearable sight to others, but they had such sore need 
of company that their eyes would rest upon it with real joy. 
It resembled the decomposed features of a dead person 
with two living eyes placed in their midst ; these eyes 
alone moved, turning rapidly on every side ; the cheeks and 
the mouth were as though petrified, they frightened one 
with their immutability. When Madame Eaquin dropped 
off to sleep and lowered her eyelids, her pale and silent 
countenance was really like that of a corpse ; Thei-ese and 
Laurent, who then felt alone together, made a noise until 
the paralytic had opened her eyes and looked at them. 
They thus made her keep awake. 

They looked upon her as a distraction which kept off their 
bad dreams. Now that she was infirm, she had to be 
tended like an infant. The nursing and attention they 
lavished on her, forced them to give another channel to 


their thoughts. In the morning, Laurent helped her up, 
and carried her to her chair, and, in the evening, he carried 
her back to bed ; she was still heavy, and he had to make 
use of all his strength to raise her tenderly in his arms and 
carry her. It was also he who wheeled her chair. The 
other cares devolved on Therese ; she dressed the sufferer, 
fed her, sought to understand her slightest wish. Madame 
Raquin retained for some days the use of her hands, she 
could write on a slate and thus ask for what she wanted ; 
then her hands became powerless, she could no longer lift 
them and hold a pencil ; from that time she could only 
speak with her eyes, her niece had to guess her wants. The 
young woman devoted herself to the hard duties of sick- 
nursing ; it gave an employment to her mind and body, 
which did her a great deal of good. 

In order to avoid being alone by themselves, the couple 
wheeled the invalid's chair into the dining-room the very 
first thing in the morning. They placed her between them, 
as though she had been necessary to their existence ; they 
made her assist at their meals, at all their interviews. They 
pretended not to understand when she expressed a desire to 
go to her own room. She was of no use except to make a 
third, she had no right to be alone. At eight o'clock 
Laurent would go off to his studio, while Therese went down 
to the shop, and the paralytic remained alone in the dining- 
room until noon ; then, after lunch, she was again alone 
until six o'clock. Often during the day, her niece would go 
up, give a look round, and see if she wanted anything. The 
friends of the family could not sufficiently praise the virtues 
of Therese and Laurent. 

The Thursday receptions continued as before, and the in- 
valid was always present as formerly. Her chair was 
wheeled to the table ; from eight o'clock to eleven she kept 
her eyes open, looking in turn at each guest with a pene- 

198 THriRfcSE RAQUIN. 

trating gaze. At first, old Michaud and Grivet felt rather 
uncomfortable in the presence of the living corpse of their 
old friend ; they did not know how they ought to look, their 
sorrow was very limited, and they wondered how unhappy 
they were expected to be. Ought they to address conver- 
sation to this dead face, or take no notice of it whatever ? 
By degrees, they decided to treat Madame Eaquin as if 
nothing had happened to her. They ended by seeming to 
completely ignore her condition. They chatted with her, 
asking questions and answering them, laughing for her and 
for themselves, never allowing themselves to be upset by 
the rigid expression of her face. It was a strange sight ; 
these men seemed conversing with a statue, as little girls 
talk to their dolls. The paralytic sat silent and motionless 
before them, and they talked and gesticulated, holding with 
her the most animated discourses. Michaud and Griyet 
were charmed with their good behaviour. They considered 
they were thus showing the greatest politeness, and they 
spared themselves, moreover, the nuisance of tl.e customary 
condolences. Madame Raquin surely felt flattered at being 
treated like a person in good health, and henceforth, it was 
permissible to them to make merry in her presence without 
the least scruple. 

Grivet had a mania. He affirmed that he understood 
Madame Eaquin completely, that she could not look at him 
without his at once divining her wish. This was another 
delicate attention. Unfortunately Grivet was always mis- 
taken. Very often, he interrupted the game of dominoes, 
looked closely at the paralytic whose eyes were quietly 
watching the play, and declared that she wanted such or 
such a thing. On investigation, it would be found she 
either wanted nothing at all, or something totally different. 
This did not discourage G.-ivet, who would shout trium- 
phantly : " Just as I told you ! " and begin again, a few 


minutes Liter. It was a verj' different thing when the poor 
woman openly showed some want; Therese, Laurent, the 
guests named one after another the things she might require. 
Grivet then made himself conspicuous by his mistakes. He 
named everything he could think of at haphazard, always 
offering the very opposite to what Madame Eaquin required. 
Yet, all the same, he would keep repeating : 

"As for me, I can read her eyes like a book. There, she 
is now saying I am right. Are you not, my dear lady 1 
Yes, yes." 

After all, it was no easy matter to guess the sufferer's 
wishes. Therese alone possessed that science. She commun- 
icated pretty easily with this walled-up mind, still living, 
though buried beneath a mass of dead flesh. What was 
passing in the brain of this miserable being, who was just 
sufficiently alive to exist without being able to take her part 
in the life around her? She saw. heard, and reasoned no 
doubt in a clear and distinct manner, and was debarred 
giving utterance, either by word or gesture, to the thoughts 
which arose in her. Perhaps her ideas were stifling her. 
She was powerless to raise her hand, or open her mouth, if 
even a movement, a word from her might have decided the 
destinies of the world. Her mind was like one of. those 
miserable wretches who are sometimes by mistake buried 
alive, and who awake amid the darkness of the earth, two or 
three yards beneath the surface ; they shriek, they struggle, 
and we pass over them without hearing their heartrending 
cries of despair. Laurent often looked at Madame Eaquin 
as she sat, her lips closed, her hands resting on her knees, 
concentrating her whole being in her bright restless eyes, 
and he would say to himself : 
r" "Who knows what are her solitary thoughts? Some 
/ terrible drama is possibly being enacted in the depths of 
that imprisoned mind." 

200 THtiBilSE RAQUIN. 

Laurent was wrong. Madame Eaquin was happy, nappy 
in the affection and the care of her dear children. She had 
always thought that she should fade away thus slowly, sur- 
rounded by devotion and caresses. True, she would have 
wished to retain the power of speech, to thank the friends 
who were helping her to die in peace. But she accepted 
her condition with resignation. The peaceful, retired life 
she had always led, the sweetness of her disposition, pre- 
vented her feeling too severely the sufferings of muteness 
and immobility. She had become once more a child ; 
she passed her days without tedium, looking about her, 
thinking of the past. She even began to enjoy sitting quite 
still in her easy-chair, like a good little girl. 

Day by day her eyes grew more gentle, more clear in 
their expression. She was able to use them like a hand or 
a mouth to ask or to thank. Thus she was enabled to 
supply, in a wonderful and touching manner, the organs 
_ which failed her. Her gaze was beautiful with a celestial 
beauty, in the midst of her poor face, the flesh of which 
hung flabby and distorted. Since her twisted and inert lips 
could no longer smile, she smiled with her eyes, with 
adorable tenderness ; moist gleams and brightest rays were 
reflected from these orbits. Nothing could be more strange 
than these eyes laughing like lips in that dead face; the lower 
part of the countenance remained sad and wan, while the 
upper part became divinely illumined. It was especially for 
her dear children that she crowded all her gratitude, all her 
heart's affection, into a simple glance. When, night and 
morning, Laurent took her in his arms to carry her, she 
thanked him lovingly with looks full of tender effusion. 

She lived thus for several weeks, awaiting death, feeling 
sheltered from all fresh misfortune. She thought she had 
had her share of suffering. She was. mistaken. One even- 
ing a terrible blow overtook her. 


Therese and Laurent had vainly placed her between them, 
full in the light. She was no longer sufficiently alive to 
separate them and defend them from their misery. When 
they forgot that she was there, hearing them and seeing them, 
their visions returned ; they saw Camille and tried to drive 
him away. Then words were dropped and avowals made in 
spite of them, bits of phrases which ended by revealing all 
to Madame Eaquin. Laurent had a sort of wild paroxysm 
in which he spoke out like a madman. Suddenly the 
paralytic knew all. 

A fearful contraction passed over her face, and she was 
so violently agitated that Therese thought she was about to 
leap up and shout aloud. Then she relapsed into the 
rigidity of iron. This sort of shock was the more appalling 
that it seemed to galvanize a corpse. Sensibility, momen- 
tarily recalled, vanished ; the invalid was left more prostrate, 
more ghastly pale. Her eyes, usually so soft, had become 
black and hard, like two bits of metal. 

Never on any poor mortal had despair fallen with a more 
sudden blow. The frightful truth scorched the eyes of the 
paralytic like a flash of lightning, and penetrated her with 
the force of a thunderbolt. Had she been able to rise to 
utter the cry of horror which mounted to her throat to curse 
her son's murderers, she would have suffered less. But, 
after having heard everything, understood everything, she 
was forced to remain silent and motionless, confining within 
her the horror of her grief. She felt as if Therese and 
Laurent had tied her down, nailed her to her chair to 
prevent her springing up, and that they took a hideous 
pleasure in repeating to her : " We have murdered Camille,'' 
after having placed a gag over her mouth to stifle her moans. 
Terror, anguish seemed tearing up and down her frame, 
unable to have vent. She made superhuman efforts to raise 
the weight that was crushing her, to loosen the muscles 


of her throat, and thus give outlet to the torrent of her 
despair. But powerless were her last efforts. She felt her 
tongue cold against her palate ; she could not escape her 
living death. The powerlessness of a corpse held her rigid. 
Her sensations resembled those of a man fallen into a trance, 
buried for dead, and who, fettered by the bonds of his flesh, 
hears the dull sound of the gravel being shovelled in over- 

The ravishes accomplished in her heart were still more 
terrible. She felt an internal crumbling which wrecked her. 
Her whole life was left desolate ; all her tenderness, all 
her kind feelings, all her devotion, had been brutally up- 
rooted and trodden under foot. She had led a life of 
affection and gentleness, and in her last hours, when 
she thought to carry to the grave her faith in the tranquil 
joys of existence, a voice cried out to her that all is false and 
all is wicked. The veil which had been rent showed her, 
beyond the love and friendship she had believed in, a fearful 
spectacle of blood and shame. She would have railed at 
God had she been able to utter a blasphemy. God had 
deceived her for over sixty years by treating her as a good 
and gentle little girl, by amusing her eyes with false pictures 
of tranquil joy. And she had remained child-like, thinking 
foolishly of a thousand silly things, unable to see real life 
dragged through the bloody mire of evil passions. God was 
wicked ; He should have told her the truth sooner, or have 
let her depart in her blind innocence. Now she had nothing 
left but to die, denying the existence of love, friendship, 
devotion. Nothing remained but murder and sensuality. 

What ! Camille had been done to death by Therese and 
Laurent, and these two had conceived the crime in the 
midst of their shameful adultery ! There was for Madame 
Raquin, in this thought, such an abyss that she could not 
reason it out or seize hold of it in" a clear and detailed 


manner. She experienced one sensation only, that of a 
horrible fall ; she felt as though she were dropping into a 
black, chilly hole. And she said to herself : " I shall be 
smashed to pieces at the bottom." 

After the first shock, the monstrosity of the crime seemed 
to her to make it impossible. Then she feared she should 
lose her reason, when she was convinced of the adultery and 
the murder, by the remembrance of trifling circumstances 
which before had puzzled her. Therese and Laurent were 
without doubt Camille's murderers — Therese whom she had 
brought up, Laurent whom she had loved as a tender, 
devoted mother. This great fact turned round and round 
in her head like a gigantic wheel with a deafening noise. 
She imagined such loathsome, details, she fathomed such 
deep hypocrisy, she saw in her mind's eye a double game of 
such atrocious irony, that she would gladly have died to put 
an end to her faculty of thinking. One single idea, mechanical 
and implacable, ground her brain with the weight and 
tenacity of a mill-stone. She kept repeating to herself: 
" It is my children who have murdered my child," and this 
was all she could find to express her despair. 

In the sudden revulsion of all her feelings, she lost her- 
self and could not recognise herself any more ; she remained 
overwhelmed by the brutal invasion of thoughts of vengeance 
which swamped her natural kindliness of heart. After this 
transformation, all was dark in her; she felt, growing in 
her dying frame, a new being, cruel and implacable, who 
longed to bite the murderers of her son. 

When she had succumbed to the relentless grasp of 
paralysis, when she had realized that she could not fly at the 
throats of Therese and Laurent, whom she longed to strangle, 
she resigned herself to silence and immobility, and big tears 
fell slowly from her eyes. Nothing could be more heart- 
breaking than that mute and motionless despair. Those 


tears which fell one by one on that dead face of which not 
a muscle moved, that pale inert face which could only show 
its grief by weeping from its eyes, presented a touching 

The'rese was seized with a terrified pity. 

" You must carry her to bed," said she to Laurent, point- 
ing to her aunt. 

Laurent hastened to wheel her into her room. Then he 
stooped down to lift her in his arms. At this juncture, 
Madame Raquin hoped some hidden power would enable 
her to spring to her feet ; she made a supreme effort. God 
would not surely permit Laurent to hold her to his breast ; 
she trusted a thunderbolt would fall on him if he attempted 
anything so monstrous. But her effort availed nothing, and 
Heaven reserved its thunder. She remained powerless, 
passive, as a bundle of linen. She was seized, taken up, 
carried by the assassin ; she had the agony of feeling herself 
inert and abandoned in the arms of Camille's murderer. 
Her head rolled on to Laurent's shoulder, and she fixed on 
him her eyes dilated with horror. 

" There, there, look at me as much as you like," mur- 
mured he, " your eyes can't devour me." 

And he flung her brutally on the bed. The infirm old 
woman fainted away. Her last thought had been one of 
terror and disgust. In future she must, morning and even- 
ing, submit to the foul embrace of Laurent's arms. 



Nothing less than a sudden and irresistible paroxysm of 
fear had caused the guilty pair to speak, to make avowals in 
the presence of Madame Raquin. They were neither one 
nor the other naturally cruel ; humanity would have 
prompted them to avoid such a revelation, even if their own 
safety had not already enjoined them to keep silence. 

On the ensuing Thursday they were singularly uneasy. 
In the morning, Therese asked Laurent if he thought it safe 
to have the paralytic in the dining-room during the evening. 
She knew all, and might give the alarm. 

" Bosh ! " replied Laurent, " she can't stir so much as 
her little finger. How can she do mischief 1 " 

" She will perhaps find some means,'' answered Therese. 
" Since that evening, I can read an implacable resolve in 
her eyes." 

" Oh ! no, the doctor told me all was indeed over for her. 
If she ever speaks again, it will be in the rattle of her last 
agony. She cannot last much longer. We should be fools 
to burden our consciences with anything more, by preventing 
her assisting at our gathering." 

Therese shuddered. 

" You misunderstood me," she cried. " Oh ! you are 
right, enough blood has been shed. I meant we could shut 
my aunt in her room and pretend she is asleep, or not so 

" Just so," replied Laurent, " and that fool Michaud would 

206 THtiRfiSE RAQUIN. 

walk into the room all the same to see his old friend. It 
would be an excellent way to ruin us.'' 

He stammered, he wished to seem at his ease, but fear 
made him falter. 

" We had better let things take their course," he con- 
tinued. "Those people are as stupid as geese; they will 
not be able to understand the old woman's mute despair. 
They cannot suspect anything, for they have not the most 
remote idea of the truth. The experiment once made, we 
shall be easy for the future, despite our imprudence. You 
will see, it will be all right." 

That evening, when the guests arrived, Madame Raquin 
occupied her usual place between the stove and the table. 
Laurent and Therese made a show of being in high spirits, 
hiding their fears, watching with dread for the incident 
which was sure to occur. They had lowered the lamp shade 
to the utmost ; the American cloth alone was illuminated. 

The guests began with the trivial, noisy conversation 
which was the invariable prelude to the first game of 
dominoes. Grivet and Michaud occupied themselves, as 
usual, in polite inquiries after the health of the invalid, 
inquiries to which they themselves furnished the most satis- 
factory replies, as they were in the habit cf doing. After 
that, without another thought to the poor old woman, the 
company threw themselves, heart and soul, into the game. 

Since she had learnt the horrible secret, Madame Raquin 
had been awaiting this evening with feverish longing. She 
had collected her last remnant of strength to denounce the 
culprits. Up to the last moment, she had feared she would 
not be present ; she thought Laurent would hide her, kill 
her perhaps, or, at least, shut her up in her room. When 
she found she was going to be left there with the guests, 
she rejoiced in thinking she would make an effort to avenge 
her son. Knowing the power of utterance was gone, she 

THtiKfcSE EAQUIN. 207 

tried a new language. By a suprreme force of will; she 
succeeded in galvanizing, so to say, her dead right hand, and 
in raising it slightly from her knee, where it was always 
stretched inert ; then she made it climb slowly up one of 
the legs of the table before her, and managed to get it on to 
the American cloth. Then she feebly moved the fingers to 
attract attention. 

When the players beheld in their midst this dead hand, 
so white and powerless, they were much surprised. Grivet 
stopped, with his arm raised, at the moment of triumphantly 
placing the double six. Ever since the seizure, the paralytic 
had been unable to move her hands. 

" Look ! Therese," cried Michaud, " Madame Eaquin is 
positively moving her fingers ! No doubt, she wants some- 

Therese was unable to reply ; she and Laurent had both 
watched these unwonted movements of the paralytic, she 
saw her aunt's hand, dead-white under the glare of the lamp, 
like an avenging hand about to speak. The two murderers 
waited, breathless. 

" By Jove ! yes," said Grivet, " she wants something. 
Oh ! she and I understand each other well. She wants to 
play dominoes. That's it, isn't it, my dear lady ? " 

Madame Eaquin made a violent sign in the negative. 
With immense effort, she stretched out one finger, bent the 
others back, and began painfully to trace letters on the table. 
She had scarcely made a few marks, when Grivet again called 
out in triumph : 

" I see : she says I'm right in placing the double six." 

The paralytic cast an angry look at the old clerk, and 
resumed the word she wished to write. But at every 
moment Grivet interrupted her, saying it was useless, that 
he had understood, and he suggested some fresh nonsense. 
At last, Michaud insisted on his keeping quiet. 


"Why the devil can't you let Madame Eaquin speak?" 
said he. " Speak, my old friend." 

And he watched the American cloth as though he had 
been listening. But the paralytic's fingers were growing 
weary, they had begun a word at least ten times, and they 
now wavered from right to left in trying to finish it. Michaud 
and Olivier leant forward, unable to decipher it and en- 
couraging the sufferer to try again. 

" Good ! " cried Olivier suddenly. " I can make it out 
this time. She has written your name, Therese. Look : 
' Therese and — ' Go on, my dear lady." 

Therese nearly screamed with anguish. She watched her 
aunt's fingers moving over the cloth, and it seemed to her 
that these fingers were tracing her name and her crime in 
letters of fire. Laurent had risen hastily, debating whether 
he should make a rush at the old woman and break her arm. 
He thought all was lost, he felt the chill and the weight of 
his punishment, as he beheld that hand return to life to 
reveal Canaille's murder. 

Madame Eaquin still wrote on, but more and more feebly. 

" It's quite clear, I can read that plainly," resumed Olivier, 
after a pause, looking at the pair. " Your aunt has written 
both your names : ' Therese and Laurent — ' " 

The old lady made several signs of affirmation, while 
casting crushing glances at the murderers. Then she tried 
to finish, but her fingers had stiffened. The supreme force 
of will which had galvanized them, was escaping from her ; 
she felt the paralysis slowly return along her arm, and again 
seize hold of her wrist. She hurried on, and managed to 
trace another word. 

Old Michaud read aloud : 

" Therese and Laurent have — " 

And Olivier asked : 

" What is it they have done, your dear children ] " 

TH^RtlSE RAQU1N. 209 

The murderers, seized with maddening fear, were on the 
point of completing the sentence aloud. They were gazing 
with fixed and troubled eyes at the avenging hand, when, 
all at once, that hand was convulsed and stretched flat on 
the table ; then it slipped and fell on the knee of the para- 
lytic like a mass of inanimate flesh. The malady had returned 
and arrested the punishment. Michaud and Olivier sat 
down again disappointed, while Therese sind Laurent tasted a 
joy so sudden, that they nearly fainted under the reaction. 

Grivet was vexed at having his word doubted. He thought 
the moment had arrived for retrieving bis fame by com- 
pleting Madame Raquin's unfinished sentence. As everyone 
was seeking its meaning : 

" It's plain enough," said he, " I can read the rest of it in 
madame's eyes. I don't need her writing on a table ; one of 
her looks suffices for me. She meant to say ; ' Therese and 
Laurent have taken good care of me.' " 

Grivet was delighted with his idea, for the whole company 
agreed with him. The guests began praising the couple who 
were so devoted to the poor invalid. 

" It's, evident," said old Michaud, gravely, " that Madame 
Raquin wished to do homage to the tender attentions be- 
stowed on her by her children. That is an honour for the 
family." , 

And he added, as he returned to his dominoes : 

" Come, let's continue. Where were we 1 Grivet was 
just going to place the double six, I think." 

Grivet placed the double six. The game went on, stupid 
and monotonous. 

The paralytic was looking at her hand, plunged in deep 
despair. Her hand had just played her false. She felt it 
now as heavy as lead ; never again would she be able to 
raise it. Heaven did not will that Camille should be avenged, 
his mother was deprived of the sole means of making known 



to mankind the murder of which he had been the victim. 
And the unhappy creature told herself there was nothing 
left for her to do but to go and join her child in the grave. 
She closed her eyelids, feeling useless henceforth, and wishing 
to think herself already in the darkness of the tomb. 



For two months, Th^rese and Laurent had struggled with 
the miseries of their union. Each caused the other to suffer. 
By slow degrees, hatred grew up between them, they ended 
by casting angry glances at each other, full of vague 

It was but natural that hatred should come. They had 
loved lik6 brutes, with a hot passion, all of the blood ; then, 
amid the enervating effects of the crime, their love had 
turned to fear, and their caresses had filled them with a sort of 
physical fright ; now, beneath the suffering which marriage 
and a common existence forced upon them, they became dis- 
gusted and enraged. 

Their hatred was an atrocious one and broke into, terrible 
outbursts. They felt that they bored each other ; they 
told themselves they would lead peaceful lives if they were 
not for ever face to face. When together, an enormous 
weight seemed stifling them, and they would have liked to 
remove this weight, to destroy it; their lips were compressed, 
thoughts of violence gleamed in their clear eyes, and they 
longed to destroy each other. 

In reality the same thought was gnawing at their vitals : 
they were furious at the contemplation of their crime, they 
were desperate at having for ever blasted their lives. This 
was the true source of their anger and their hatred. They 
felt the evil to be incurable, that they must suffer till the 
day of their death for the murder of Camille, and this idea 
of the perpetuity of their suffering exasperated them. Not 


knowing who to blame, they mutually blamed themselves, 
they execrated one another. 

They would not acknowledge that their marriage was the 
fatal punishment for the murder ; they refused to hear 
the inner voice which cried out the truth, and spread before 
them the history of their life. And yet, in the fits of rage which 
agitated them, they could both clearly read the secret of their 
anger, they could divine the fury of their selfish lust, which 
had urged them to commit murder to satisfy their criminal 
desires, and then found in the result of the murder a discon- 
solate and intolerable existence. They remembered the past, 
they knew that their disappointed hope of licentious pleasure 
and peaceful happiness had alone filled them with remorse ; 
if they could have lived joyfully and loved on in peace, they 
would not have mourned Camille, they would have fattened 
on their crime. But their bodies had revolted, refusing 
marriage, and they asked themselves in terror whither their 
fear and disgust would lead them. They could only foresee 
a frightful future of suffering, an awful and violent consum- 
mation. Then, like two enemies who have been tied together 
and are making futile efforts to release themselves from this 
enforced embrace, they strained every nerve and muscle, 
they girded themselves up, without being able to set them, 
selves free. Then, realizing that they must ever remain 
within each other's grasp, irritated by the cords which were 
cutting mto their flesh, loathing each other's touch, feeling 
their uneasiness hourly increase, forgetting their union was 
their own work, and unable to bear their bonds for another 
instant, they hurled- the most horrible reproaches at each 
other, they tried to suffer less, to stanch the wounds they 
were inflicting, by abusing one another, by deafening each 
other with their cries and accusations. 

Every evening witnessed a fresh quarrel. The murderers 
seemed to seek occasions for aggravating each other, and 


relaxing their strained nerves. They watched each other, 
read each other with a glance, probing the wounds, finding' 
the sore spots, and taking a fiendish delight in making each 
other howl in agony. They thus lived amid continual irri- 
tation, tired of each other, unable any longer to bear a word, 
a look, a gesture without suffering and going crazy. Their 
whole beings were ready for violence ; the least impatience, 
the most ordinary disappointment became strangely ex- 
aggerated in their disordered minds, and grew suddenly into 
acts of gross brutality. A mere nothing raised a storm 
which lasted till the following day. Too hot a dish, an open 
window, a contradiction, a simple remark sufficed to drive 
them raving mad. And ever, in the heat of the dispute, 
they flung the drowned man at each other's heads. From 
one word to another they got to reproach each other with 
the murder at Saint-Ouen; then they were beside 
themselves with rage, they could no longer control their 
passion. Then followed terrible scenes, stifled cries, blows, 
horrible shrieks, shameful brutality. It was generally after 
dinner that Therese and Laurent quarrelled thus ; they shut 
themselves up in the dining-room that others might not 
hear the noise of their despair. There, they could fight it 
out, in that damp room, that sort of vault which the lamp 
illumined with yellowish rays. In the silence and tranquillity 
of the air their voices rang out with harrowing distinctness. 
They did not cease until they were exhausted with fatigue ; 
then only could they hope for a few hours of rest. Their 
quarrels became a sort of necessity to them, a means of gain- 
ing sleep by stupefying their nerves. 

Madame Eaquin listened to them. She was always pre- 
sent, in her easy-chair, her hands stretched on her knees, her 
head erect, her face motionless. She heard all, and her dead 
flesh remained without a shudder. Her eyes fastened them- 
selves on the murderers with a penetrating gaze. Her mar- 


tyrdom must have been atrocious. She thus learnt by de- 
grees every detail of the events which had preceded and 
followed Camille's murder, she was gradually made aware of 
all the lewdness and crimes of those she had called her dear 

The quarrels of the guilty pair made known to her the 
smallest circumstances, and unveiled to her terrified mind, 
one by one, the episodes of the horrible tragedy. And as 
she penetrated deeper into this bloody mire, she cried mercy, 
she thought to have reached the depths of infamy, and she 
had to go lower still. Every evening she learnt some fresh 
detail. The frightful history was ever growing before her ; 
it seemed to her she was lost in a never-ending dream of 
horror. The first avowal had been brutal and crushing, but 
she suffered still more from these repeated blows, from these 
little facts which the couple let escape them in their fury 
and which threw a sinister light on the crime. Once a day 
this mother heard the account of her son's murder, and each 
day this account became more ghastly, more vivid, and was 
dinned into her ears with more force and cruelty. 

Sometimes, Therese was seized with remorse in the pre- 
sence of that wan face, down which silently coursed great 
tears. She would draw Laurent's attention to her aunt, 
imploring him with a look to be silent. 

" Oh, nonsense ! " he would brutally cry, " you know very 
well she can't denounce us. Am I any happier than she 
is 1 We have her money, so there's no need for me to put 
myself out." 

And the quarrel would continue, fierce, piercing, killing 
Camille afresh. Neither Therese nor Laurent dared yield 
to the feeling of pity which sometimes came to them to shut 
the paralytic up in her room, when they were quarrelling, 
and thus to save her the account of the crime. They feared 
they might murder each other, if they had no longer even 


this living corpse between them. Their pity succumbed to 
their cowardice, they inflicted untold suffering on Madame 
Raquin, because they needed her presence as a safeguard for 
themselves against their hallucinations. 

All their quarrels were alike and led them to the same 
accusations. From the moment that Camille's name was 
uttered and that one accused the other of killing him, the 
battle began in earnest. 

One evening, at dinner, Laurent, who was seeking for a 
pretext to give vent to his ill-temper, found the drinking 
water in the water-bottle luke-warm ; he declared that tepid 
water made him sick, and that he must have some cold. 

" I was unable to get any ice," replied Therese curtly. 

" All right, I sha'n't drink," retorted Laurent. 

" The water is quite right." 

" It's warm and tastes muddy. It's just like river water." 

Therese repeated : 

" River water." 

And she burst into a fit of sobbing. An association of 
ideas had just taken place in her mind. 

" What are you crying for 1 " asked Laurent, who foresaw 
the answer and turned pale. 

" I'm crying," sobbed the young woman, " because — you 
know well enough — oh ! my God ! my God ! It was you 
who killed him." 

" You lie ! " cried the murderer vehemently, " confess that 
you lie. If I threw him into the Seine it was because you 
drove me to commit the murder." 

" I ! I ! " 

" Yes, you ! Don't deny it, don't oblige me to force tho 
truth out of you. I mean to make you confess your crime, 
and own your share in the murder. That will soothe and 
ease me." 

" But it wasn't I who drowned Camille." 


" Yes, a thousand times yes, it was you ! Oh ! you feign 
surprise and forgetfulness. Wait, I'll bring it back to your 

He rose up from the table, bent over towards the young 
woman, and, crimson with rage, shouted in her face : 

" You were at the water's edge, you remember, and I said 
to you in a whisper : 'I'm going to chuck him into the water. 
Then you agreed to it, you got into the boat. You see very 
well that you murdered him with me." 

" It's false. I was beside myself, I don't remember what 
I did, but I never wished to kill him. You alone committed 
the crime." 

These denials tortured Laurent. As he told her, it was 
a comfort to him to feel he had an accomplice ; he would 
have endeavoured to prove to himself, had he dared, that all 
the horror of the murder lay at Therese's door. He had 
longings to beat the young woman to make her confess she 
was the guiltier of the two. 

He began pacing the room, shouting, gesticulating, fol- 
lowed by Madame Eaquin's fixed gaze. 

" Oh ! the wretch ! the wretch!" stammered he in a choking 
voice, " she wants to drive me mad. Didn't you come one 
night to my room, like a common prostitute ? didn't you 
intoxicate me with your caresses to get me to remove your 
husband from your path % He disgusted you, he smelt like a 
sick child, you told me so when I used to come and visit you 
here. Had I such thoughts three years ago ? Was I such 
a scoundrel 1 I was leading the quiet life of an honest man, 
doing harm to no one. I wouldn't have hurt a fly." 

" It was you who killed Camille," repeated Therese, with 
a desperate obstinacy which maddened Laurent. 

" No. it was you, I tell you it was you," replied he furiously. 
" You had better not exasperate me, it might end badly. 
Do you mean to say, you wretched woman, that you don't 


remember anything 1 You gave yourself up to me like a 
common -woman, there, in your husband's room ; you taught 
me a voluptuousness which drove me mad. Confess that you 
had calculated all this, that you hated Camille, and that you 
had for a long while wanted to get rid of him. You doubtless 
took me as your lover in order to make me your tool to kill him." 

" It isn't true. Your accusation is monstrous. You have 
no right to taunt me with my weakness. I can say, as you 
do, that before I met you I was a respectable woman who 
had never done any one an injury. If I led you astray, you 
led me farther astray. We had better drop arguing, do you 
hear, Laurent? I might have rather too many things to 
reproach you with.'' 

" What can you have to reproach me with 1 " 

" Oh, nothing. You didn't save me from myself, you took 
advantage of my weakness, you exulted in ruining my life. 
I forgive it all. But, for mercy's sake, don't accuse me of 
killing Camille. Keep your own crime to yourself; don't try 
to terrify me beyond endurance.'' 

Laurent raised his hand to strike Therese in the face. 

" Beat me, I prefer that," she added, " the suffering would 
be less.'' 

And she held her face to him. He restrained himself, 
fetched a chair, and sat down beside the young woman. 

" Listen to me," he said, trying to speak calmly, " it's 
cowardly to deny your share in the crime. You're perfectly 
well aware that we committed it together, you know you're 
as guilty as I am. Why will you double my burthen by 
maintaining your innocence ? Were you innocent, you would 
never have consented to marry me. Remember the two 
years which followed the murder. Would you like a proof 1 
I will go and confess all to the public prosecutor, and you 
will see if we shall not both be condemned." 

They shuddered, and Therese replied : 

" The public might, perhaps, condemn me, but Camille 

218 THlilRfiSE RAQUIN. 

knows that you did it all. He does not haunt me at night 
as he does you.'' 

" Camille leaves me in peace," said Laurent, pale and 
trembling, " it's you who see him in your nightmares ; I've 
heard your screams." 

" Don't say that," cried the young woman angrily, "I 
didn't scream, I don't want the ghost to come. Oh, I under- 
stand, you want to turn him away from you. I'm innocent, 
I'm innocent ! " 

They gazed at each other terror-stricken, exhausted, fearing 
they should see the corpse of the drowned man. Their 
quarrels always ended thus ; they protested their innocence, 
they sought, by self-deception, to banish bad dreams. Their 
continual efforts were directed to mutually denying the re- 
sponsibility of the crime, to defending themselves as if before 
a tribunal, each hurling at the other the most terrible 
accusations, Strange to say they never succeeded in be- 
coming dupes of their own oaths, both having a clear recol- 
lection of all the circumstances of the murder. They read 
the confession in each other's eyes, though their lips denied 
it. Puerile lies, ridiculous assertions, a wordy dispute of 
two wretched beings who lied for lying's sake, without the 
power of ignoring their untruth. They played, in turn, the 
part of accuser, and, though the trial they acted never had 
any result, they recommenced it each evening with cruel 
tenacity. They knew they could prove nothing, that they 
could not ehange the past, yet they persisted in the attempt, 
they returned ever to the charge, goaded by pain and terror, 
vanquished beforehand by the overwhelming reality. The 
sole result of their disputes was a tempest of words and shouts, 
the noise of which deafened them for a moment. 

As long as their passion raged in stormy accusations, the 
stricken woman fixed upon them her steady gaze. Her eyes 
shone with an ardent joy, whenever Laurent raised his great 
hand over Thereae's head. 



A fresh phase declared itself. Therese, driven to extremity 
by her fears, seeking vainly some thought to console her, 
began mourning the drowned man aloud . in Laurent's 

A sudden despondency took possession of her. Her nerves, 
too tightly strung, collapsed, her hard and violent nature 
softened. She had already felt some emotion in the early 
days of her marriage. This emotion returned, as a necessary 
but fatal reaction. When the young woman had struggled 
with her whole nervous energy against Camille's spectre, 
when she had lived several months in a state of secret irrita- 
tion, indignant at her sufferings, seeking to cure them by 
the sole effort of her will, she suddenly experienced such 
physical lassitude that she faltered and was vanquished. 
Then, once more a weak woman, even a young girl, without 
the strength to be firm, to stand up feverishly confronting 
her fears, she gave herself up to compassion, to tears and 
regrets, hoping to find in them some consolation. She tried 
to make capital of the weakness of the mind and of the 
flesh which beset her. Perhaps the drowned man, who had 
not yielded to her anger, might yield to her tears. She 
therefore calculated her remorse, telling herself it was 
doubtless the best means to soothe and appease Camille. 
Like certain devotees, who think to deceive God and to 
obtain pardon from Him by praying with the lips only, and 
putting on the humble attitude of penitence, Therese 
humbled herself, beat her breast, sought words of repent- 

220 Tffl&RfcSE RAQUIN. 

ance, without having in her heart aught save fear and 
cowardice. Besides, she experienced a certain physical 
pleasure in abandoning herself, in feeling herself weak and 
shattered, in offering herself up unresistingly to her grief. 

She overwhelmed Madame Raquin with her tearful 
despair. The paralytic became of daily use to her. She 
served Therese as a sort of fall-stool, a piece of furniture 
before which she could fearlessly confess her sins and ask for 
pardon. As soon as she felt the need for tears, for finding 
a resource in weeping, she threw herself on her knees 
before the invalid, and there cried and choked, enacting a 
scene of remorse which relieved while it weakened her. 

" I am a wretched woman," she faltered ; " I deserve no 
forgiveness. I deceived you ; I sent your son to his death. 
Never can you forgive me. And yet, if you could read in 
my heart the remorse which is rending it, if you knew how 
much I suffer, perhaps you would take pity on me. But no, 
there is no pity for me. I would gladly die thus at your 
feet, crushed by shame and sorrow." 

She would talk on in this strain for hours together, pass- 
ing from despair to hope, first condemning, then pardoning 
herself. She affected the tones of a little sick girl, now curt, 
now plaintive. She threw herself flat on the ground, and 
then stood up, obeying every impulse of pride and humility, 
of repentance and revolt, which passed through her frame. 
Sometimes she even forgot she was kneeling before Madame 
Raquin, and she continued her monologue in a dream. 
When she had quite bewildered herself with her own words, 
she would rise up tottering, stupefied, and go down into 
the shop, calmed, and no longer fearing a nervous outburst 
of sobbing before her customers. When a fresh fit of 
remorse attacked her, she would run up again to her aunt, 
and again throw herself on her knees at her feet. And this 
scene began afresh ten times a day. 

TmfiRfcSE RAQUIK. 221 

Therese never thought what indescribable agony her 
tears and noisy repentance must have been to her aunt. 
In truth, if a new punishment had been sought to torture 
Madame Eaquin, no more frightful one could certainly have 
been found than the comedy of remorse played by her 
niece. The stricken woman divined the selfishness con- 
cealed beneath these outbursts of grief. She suffered 
horribly from these long monologues to which she was 
forced to listen every moment, and which were a constant 
reminder of her son's murder. She could not forgive, she 
wrapped herself up in implacable thoughts of vengeance, 
rendered more acute by her impotence, and, all day long, 
she was condemned to listen to prayers for pardon, cowardly, 
humble petitions. Shu' longed to reply ; some of her niece's 
words filled her throat with crushing refusals, but she had 
to remain silent, letting Therese plead her cause, without 
ever interrupting her. Her inability to cry out or to close 
her ears filled her with indescribable torment. And, one 
by one, the young wife's words fell upon her ear, slow and 
plaintive, like an irritating song. She thought at first that 
the murderers inflicted this kind of punishment upon her 
from a motive of diabolical cruelty. Her only means of 
defence was to close her eyes, so soon as her niece knelt 
before her ; if she must hear her, she need not see her. 

Therese became at length emboldened to embrace her 
aunt. One day, in a fit of contrition, she pretended to 
have seen a look of mercy in the paralytic's eyes. She 
dragged herself along on her knees, crying in distracted 
tones : " You forgive me ! You forgive me ! " then she 
kissed the brow and cheeks of the poor old woman, who was 
unable to move her head away. The cold flesh on which 
Therese placed her lips caused her violent disgust. She 
thought this disgust would be, like the tears and remorse, 
an excellent specific for calming her nerves ; she continued 


to kiss the invalid daily by way of penance and for the sake 
of relief. 

" Oh, how good you are 1 " she sometimes cried. " I see 
my tears have moved you. Your looks are full of pity. I 
am saved ! " 

And she bverwhelmed her with caresses, put her head on 
her knees, kissed her hands, smiled at her in a happy kind 
of way, tended her with marks of passionate affection. 
After a little while, she came to believe in the reality of 
this comedy, she fancied she had obtained Madame Eaquin's 
pardon, and thenceforth she unceasingly talked to her of 
the happiness she felt at having her forgiveness. 

This was too much for the paralytic. She nearly died of 
it. When enduring her niece's kisses, she felt the same 
sharp repugnance and anger which filled her morning and 
evening when Laurent took her in his arms to or from her 
bedroom. She was condemned to submit to the loathsome 
caresses of the abandoned woman who had betrayed and 
murdered her son ; she could not even wipe off the kisses 
which this woman left upon her cheeks. For many weary 
hours she could feel these kisses burning her. She had 
thus become the puppet of Camille's destroyers, a puppet 
whom they dressedj turned this way and that, and made use 
of according to their needs and caprices. She remained 
inert in their hands, as if she had been filled with bran, and 
yet she was a living being, disgusted and heartbroken at 
the mere touch of Ther&se or Laurent. What exasperated 
her most of all was the atrocious mockery of the young 
woman, who pretended to read thoughts of pardon in her 
glances when those glances would have gladly dealt death 
to the criminal. She often made supreme efforts to utter a 
cry of protest ; she concentrated all her hatred in her eyes. 
But Therese, whose purpose it answered to repeat twenty 
times a day that she was forgiven, redoubled her caresses, 


and refused to understand. The paralytic had to accept ' 
thanks and effusive observations from which her heart re- 
volted. From that time she became filled with a bitter and 
powerless irritation against her cringing niece, who sought 
for adorable endearments to reward her for what she called 
her heavenly goodness. 

When Laurent was there, and his wife knelt before 
Madame Raquin, he would raise her up roughly : 

" No acting," he would say. " Do I go on my knees and 
shed tears 1 You do all that to upset me.'' 

Th^rese's remorse worried him strangely. His suffering 
had augmented since his accomplice had taken to dragging 
herself about him, her eyes red with weeping, her lips mov- 
ing beseechingly. The sight of this living grief redoubled 
his fears and increased his uneasiness. It was like an 
eternal reproach stalking about the house. And he began 
to fear that repentance would one day prompt his wife to 
reveal everything. He would have preferred that she had 
remained stiff and menacing, defending herself rancorously 
against his accusations. But she had changed her tactics ; 
she now voluntarily avowed her share in the crime ; she 
accused herself; she became gentle and timid, and turned to 
imploring redemption with zealous humility. This attitude 
irritated Laurent. Their quarrels grew more ominous and 
alarming every evening. 

"Listen," Therese would say to her husband; "we are 
great sinners; we must repent, if we wish to enjoy any 
peace. See me, since my repentance I have found more 
peace. Do as I have done. Let us say together that we 
are justly punished for having committed a horrible crime." 

" Bosh ! " Laurent would gruffly reply. " Say what you 
like. I know you're devilish clever and hypocritical. Weep 
away, if it amuses you. But have the goodness not to 
annoy me with your tears.'' 


" Ah ! you are indeed wicked. You refuse to show the 
least remorse. You're a coward, though, for you stole upon 
Camille unawares." 

"Do you mean to say I alone am guilty?" 

"No, I don't say that. I'm guilty, more guilty than you 
are. I should have defended my husband against you. 
Oh ! I see all the horror of my sin ; but I am trying to 
obtain forgiveness for it, and I shall succeed, Laurent, while 
you, you will continue to lead a miserable life. You haven't 
even the decency to hide your loathsome anger from my 
poor aunt ; nor have you ever said one penitent word to 

And she would embrace Madame Raquin, who closed her 
eyes. She hovered about her, raising the pillow that sup- 
ported her head, lavishing on her a thousand little attentions. 
Laurent grew exasperated. 

"Why don't you leave her alone?" he would cry. " Can't 
you see that you and your attentions are odious to her % If 
she could raise her hand, she would strike you." 

His wife's measured, melancholy tones, her resigned atti- 
tudes, made him gradually fly into a blind rage. He saw 
plainly enough what her tactics were. She no longer in- 
tended making common cause with him ; she meant to stand 
apart, enveloped in her repentance, in order to escape the 
dead man's embrace. Now and then it flashed across him 
that she had perhaps taken the right path, that her tears 
would cure her of her terrors, and he shuddered at the 
prospect of being alone in his suffering, alone in his dismay. 
He would have liked to have repented also, to have played 
at least the comedy of remorse, as an experiment ; but the 
necessary tears and the appropriate words would not come to 
him. He then returned to his violent conduct, shaking 
Th^rese to irritate her and drive her back into his own 
furious ways. The y6ung woman made a point of remaining 


inert, of replying to his angry ories with tearful submission, 
of growing more and more humble and repentant in propor- 
tion to his roughness. Laurent, in consequence, became 
quite beside himself. To bring his passion to a climax 
Therese would always wind up with a panegyric of Camille, 
and a display of all his virtues. 

" He was good," she would say, " and we must have been 
cruel indeed to attack that kind heart which had never 
nourished an evil thought." 

" He was good," jeered Laurent. " Oh ! yes, I know; you 
mean he was a fool, don't you ? Have you forgotten 1 You 
often told me his least word irritated you, that he could 
never open his mouth without uttering some stupid remark.'' 

" You need not sneer. It needed but this, that you should 
insult the memory of the man you murdered. You little 
know the heart of woman, Laurent ; Camille loved me and 
I loved him." 

" You loved him. Well ! really, that is good. It was 
doubtless because you loved your husband that you took me 
for your lover. I recollect one day when you were resting 
on my breast, that you said Camille disgusted you, for when 
your fingers touched him, they seemed to sink into clay. 
Oh ! I know why you loved me. You wanted stronger arms 
to encircle you than that poor devil's." 

" I loved him like a sister. He was my benefactress's 
son, he had all the delicacy of weak natures, he was noble 
and generous, obliging and loving. And we killed him, oh 
heavens ! oh heavens ! " 

She wept, she was overcome with emotion. Madame 
Raquin, indignant at hearing praises of her son from such 
polluted lips, cast bitter glances upon her. Laurent, power- 
less against this torrent of tears, paced up and down, 
meditating some effective means of stifling Therese's remorse. 
All the good which he heard told of his victim ended by 


causing him a poignant anxiety ; he was sometimes touched 
by his wife's heart-rending accents, he began to believe in 
the reality of Camille's virtues, and his fears redoubled. 
But what stung him to the quick, and made him proceed to 
violence, was the contrast the drowned man's widow drew 
between her first and second husbands, always in favour of 
the first. 

"Ah ! yes," she would say, "he was better than you; I 
only wish he were still alive, and you in his place, buried in 
the earth." 

At first, Laurent would shrug his shoulders. 
" Say what you will," continued she, excitedly, " perhaps 
I did not love him when he was alive, but now I remember 
what he was, and I love him. I love him, and I hate you ; 
do you understand 1 As for you, you are a murderer." 
" Will you hold your tongue ! " roared Laurent. 
" And he is an innocent victim, a worthy man, killed by a 
scoundrel. Oh ! you don't alarm me. You know well 
enough you're a wretch, a brute, without heart or soul. 
How can I possibly love you, covered, as you are, with 
Camille's blood ? Camille was tenderness itself for me, and 
I could kill you, do you hear ? if that could bring Camille to 
life again, and give me back his love." 

" Will you hold your tongue, you wretch 1 " 
" Why should I hold my tongue ? I speak the truth. 
I should be buying forgiveness at the price of your blood. 
Ah ! how I suffer and weep ! It's my fault that this 
monster has murdered my husband. I must go some night 
and kiss the earth over his grave. That shall be my last 

Laurent, intoxicated, driven to fury by the awful pictures 
Therese' spread out before his eyes, rushed at her, knocked 
her down, and held her beneath his knee, his fist raised. 
"That's it," she cried, "strike me, kill me. Camille 


never raised his hand against me ; but you, you're a 

And Laurent, maddened by her words, shook her in his 
rage, beat her, bruised her flesh with the blows of his 
clinched fist. Twice he nearly strangled her. Th^rese 
yielded to the blows; she keenly enjoyed being knocked 
about ; she offered herself, abandoned herself, provoked her 
husband to beat her more and more. This was another 
remedy to neutralise her life's suffering ; she slept better at 
night when she had been well thrashed in the evening. 
Madame Eaquin tasted an exquisite delight when Laurent 
thus dragged her niece about the floor, bruising her body 
with kicks. 

The murderer's existence became unbearable ever since 
the day when the infernal notion entered Therese's'head to 
repent, and to mourn aloud for Camille. From that 
moment the wretched man lived constantly with his victim ; 
every hour he had to hear his wife praising and regretting 
her first husband. The most trivial circumstance became a 
pretext : Camille did this, Camille did that, Camille had 
such a quality, Camille loved in such a manner. Always 
Camille, always melancholy reflections bemoaning Camilla's 
death. Therese employed all her spiteful powers in enhanc- 
ing this torture which she inflicted on Laurent in self-defence. 
She went into the minutest details, she related the hundred 
and one trifles of his childhood with regretful sighs, and thus 
mingled recollections of the victim with every act of daily 
life. The spectre which was already haunting the house was 
now introduced openly. He sat on the chairs, took his place 
at the table, lay on the bed, made use of the furniture and 
of the various things lying about. Laurent could not touch 
a fork, a brush, no matter what, without being reminded by 
There~se that Camille had touched it before him. Inces- 
santly knocking up against the man he had killed, the 


murderer at last experienced a singular sensation, which 
nearly took away his senses ; he imagined, from being con- 
stantly compared with Camille, and from using all the 
household belongings which Camille had used, that he was 
Camille, that he had become identified with his victim. 
His brain reeled, and then he rushed on his wife to silence 
her, to stop the utterance of words which drove him to the 
verge of delirium. All their quarrels ended in blows. 



There came a day when Madame Raquin thought to escape 
the sufferings she was enduring by starving herself to death. 
She had reached the end of her courage, she could no longer 
bear the martyrdom imposed upon her by the constant pre- 
sence of the murderers ; she hoped to find a supreme solace 
in death. Her anguish became keener day by day, as 
Therese kissed her, and Laurent took her in his arms and 
carried her like a child. She resolved to escape these 
caresses which filled her with a horrible disgust. As she 
had not sufficient life left in her to avenge her son, she pre- 
ferred being quite dead and leaving in the hands of these 
wretches nothing but a corpse, which would feel nothing, 
and with which they could do what they liked. 

For two days she refused all nourishment, using her 
remaining strength in closing her teeth, spitting out what 
they succeeded in placing in her mouth. Therese was in 
despair ; she wondered where she could cry and repent 
when her aunt should be gone. She held interminable 
monologues with her to prove that it was her duty to live ; 
she wept, she even grew angry, showing her former evil 
temper, and opening the paralytic's jaws like one opens 
those of an animal which seeks to resist. Madame Raquiu 
held her own. It was an odious struggle. 

Laurent remained neutral and indifferent. He was sur- 
prised at Therese's anxiety to prevent the suicide. Now 
that the presence of the old woman was useless to them, he 
longed for her death. He would not have killed her, but 


as she wished to die, he did not see the necessity of balking 
her determination. 

" Leave her alone ! " he would cry to his wife. " It'll be 
a good riddance. Perhaps we shall be happier when she's 

This advice, often repeated before her, produced a 
strange sensation in Madame Kaquin. She feared that 
Laurent's hope might be realized, that after her death the 
household would taste some calm and happy hours. She 
told herself she was cowardly to die, and wrong to go before 
witnessing the end of the fulsome adventure. Not till 
then should she join Camille in the tomb and tell him : 
" You are avenged." The prospect of suicide became dis- 
tasteful to her when she thought of leaving this world in 
ignorance of the end ; there, in the cold and silence of the 
grave, she would slumber, eternally tormented by uncer- 
tainty as to the ultimate punishment of his executioners. 
She felt that to sleep the calm sleep of death, she must doze 
off in the poignant joy of vengeance, carrying with her a 
dream of satisfied hate, a dream which should last through 
eternity. So she took the nourishment which her niece 
offered, she consented to live on. 

Besides, she plainly saw matters were hastening to a 
climax. Each day the position of the pair was becoming 
more strained, more intolerable. A fatal crisis which would 
end all was imminent. Every hour Therese and Laurent 
threatened each other with increasing defiance. It was no 
longer in the night alone that they suffered from being to- 
gether ; their entire days were now passed in painful 
anxiety, in heartrending attacks. Everything Ibecame a 
cause of terror and suffering. They lived in a hell, bruis- 
ing each other, embittering every word and every action, 
seeking to push each other into the gulf they felt- yawning 
beneath their feet, and both stumbling in the attempt. 

_an.T>MO wfr-c 


p. 230. 


The thought of a mutual separation had come to both of 
them. They had each dreamt of flying, of getting some re- 
pose, far from this Passage du Pont-Neuf, where the dirt 
and damp seemed part of their desolate life. But they 
could not, they durst not escape. To cease torturing each 
other, to cease suffering mutually seemed to them impossible. 
They possessed the obstinacy of cruelty and hatred. A sort 
of repulsion and attraction parted them and kept them to- 
gether at the same time; they experienced the peculiar 
sensation of two people, who after a quarrel wish to separate, 
and who yet invariably return to abuse each other afresh. 
And then there were material obstacles to their flight, the 
poor paralytic to be nursed, and the Thursday evening 
guests to be satisfied. If they disappeared, suspicion might 
be aroused ; then they fancied themselves pursued and 
guillotined. And they remained through cowardice, they 
remained and lived miserably on amid the horror of their 

When Laurent was away in the morning and after- 
noon, Therese would wander from the dining-room to the 
shop, restless and troubled, not knowing how to fill the void 
which she felt daily increasing in her being. She was idle 
when neither weeping at Madame Eaquin's feet, nor writh- 
ing beneath her husband's insults and blows. As soon as 
she found herself alone in the shop, a torpor overpowered 
her, she gazed vacantly at the people who passed along the 
dark and dirty Passage, she grew sad unto death in the 
depths of this black hole, stinking like a grave-yard. She 
ended by inviting Suzanne to come and pass long days with 
her, hoping that that poor creature's calm and gentle pre- 
sence would sooth her. 

Suzanne joyfully accepted the invitation ; she had always 
loved her with a sort of respectful affection ; she had often 
longed to come to sit and work with her while Olivier was 

232 THfiRfiSE RAQUIN. 

at his office. She brought her embroidery, and took 
Madame Raquin's empty place behind the counter. 

From that time, Th6r£se began to neglect her aunt a 
little. She went less frequently to weep at her knees and 
to kiss her lifeless face. She had a fresh occupation. She 
tried to interest herself in Suzanne's quiet chatter concern- 
ing her household and all the trifles of her monotonous life. 
This drew her thoughts from herself. She sometimes found 
herself amused with the nonsense, and this caused her to 
smile bitterly when alone. 

She gradually lost all the customers from the shop. 
Since her aunt had been laid up in her arm-chair, she en- 
tirely neglected the goods, leaving them to rot in dust and 
damp. A mouldy smell pervaded the air, cobwebs hung 
from the ceiling, and the floor was never swept. But what 
really banished the customers was the strange reception they 
sometimes met with from Thirfese. When she was upstairs, 
ill-treated by Laurent or prostrated with terror, and the 
shop bell sounded imperiously, she had to come down, 
almost without taking time to wipe away her tears and 
smooth her hair; she then served the waiting customer 
most carelessly, sometimes even avoiding the trouble of 
doing so at all, by calling from the top of the stairs that 
she was out of the article required. These disobliging ways 
were not calculated to retain custom. The humble work- • 
women of the neighbourhood, used to Madame Raquin's 
gentle manners, fled before her niece's rude ways and 
wild appearance. When The"rese had Suzanne as a com- 
panion the defection was complete : the two young women 
unwilling to be interrupted in their gossip, showed plainly 
that they wished to get rid of the few remaining purchasers. 
After this, the haberdashery business did not contribute a sou 
to the household expenses; aud it therefore became necessary 
to draw on the capital of forty and odd thousand francs. 


p. 233. 

TH&R:feSE RAQUIN. 233 

Occasionally Therese absented herself for the whole 
afternoon. No one knew where she went. She had doubt- 
less fostered this intimacy with Suzanne, not only for the 
sake of her company, but also to leave her to take charge of 
the shop when she was away. When, in the evening, she re- 
turned, exhausted, with dark circles round her eyes, she found 
Olivier's little wife behind the counter, smiling vaguely, in 
the same position in which she had left her five hours earlier. 

About five months after her marriage, Therese had a 
fright. She found herself to be in the family way. With- 
out being able to explain her feeling to herself, the idea of 
having a child by Laurent, seemed to her monstrous. She 
feared vaguely she might be delivered of a drowned child. 
She seemed already to feel within her the icy touch of a 
soft putrid corpse. At all costs, she resolved to get rid of 
this burden which froze her life, and which she could no 
longer endure. She said nothing to her husband, and, one 
day, after cruelly provoking him, she stood doggedly before 
him to receive a kick from his uplifted foot. She allowed 
herself to be kicked thus, sufficient to have killed her. 
The next day she had a miscarriage. 

Laurent, for his part, led a frightful existence. The days 
seemed to him insupportably long ; each one filled with the 
same anguish, the same heavy worries, which overwhelmed 
him at stated hours with a crushing regularity and mo- 
notony. His life dragged on, terrified each night with the 
memory of the past day, and the anticipation of the morrow. 
He knew that, in future, all his days would be alike, 
that all would bring him similar suffering. And he saw 
before him a vista of weeks, months, years, which awaited 
him, dark and implacable, following each other, closing in 
round him, and stifling him little by little. When the 
future is hopeless, the present becomes painfully bitter. 
Laurent no longer revolted, he was advancing, and abandon- 


ing himself to the stagnation which was already enveloping 
his whole being. Idleness was killing him. In the morn- 
ing he went out, not knowing where to go, disgusted at the 
thought of doing what he had done the previous day, and 
forced against his will to do the same again. He went 
mechanically, and through habit, to his studio. This room 
with its grey walls, from which one could only see a square 
patch of sky, filled him with a gloomy sadness. He flung 
himself on his divan, his arms hanging down, his mind 
stultified. Moreover, he no longer dared to use his brushes. 
He had made fresh attempts, and each time Camille's face 
mocked him from the canvas. To save himself from goiug 
mad, he ended by throwing his box of colours in a corner, 
and imposing upon himself absolute idleness. This enforced 
idleness fell upon him with incredible weight. 

In the afternoon, he anxiously pondered what he should 
do. He loitered half-an-hour on the pavement in the Rue 
Mazarine, consulting himself, meditating how he could pass 
the time. He rejected the idea of returning to his studio, 
he always decided to go down the Rue Guenegaud, then to 
walk along the quays. And he went on until evening, 
stupefied, shivering suddenly whenever he looked at the 
Seine. In his studio or in the streets, his dejection was the 
same. The next day, the same thing began again, he spent 
the morning on the divan, and he dragged himself along the 
quays in the afternoon. This lasted for months, and it 
might go on for years. 

Sometimes Laurent remembered that he had murdered 
Camille in order to be idle ever after, and he was aston- 
ished, now that he was doing nothing, to endure such 
misery. He wanted to force himself to be happy. 
He assured himself he was wrong to be miserable, that he 
had just attained supreme felicity, which consists in folding 
one's arms, and that he was a fool not to taste this felicity 

THtiKfcSE RAQUIN. 235 

in peace. Bui his arguments fell before facts. He was 
forced to confess at heart, that idleness increased his 
torments, by giving him every hour of his life in which to 
think of his despair, and to measure its incurable bitterness. 
Utter indolence, that brute existence for which he had 
longed, was his punishment. Sometimes he ardently 
wished for an occupation which would deliver him from his 
thoughts. Then he gave himself up, he sank beneath the 
weight of the blind fate which bound his limbs the more 
effectually to crush him. 

In all truth, he only felt relief when beating The"rese of an 
evening. This released him from his torpid grief. 

His most acute suffering, both moral and physical, came 
from Camille's bite on his neck. Sometimes he imagined 
the wound to be covering his whole frame. If he managed 
for a few moments to forget the past, a sharp prick he 
fancied he felt, recalled the murder to his mind and body. 
He could not stand before a mirror, without seeing the 
phenomenon which he had so often noticed, and which always 
terrified him : under the influence of his emotion, the blood 
rushed to his neck, and deeply coloured the scar, which 
began smarting and throbbing. This sort of living wound, 
waking up, blushing, biting him at the least emotion, 
alarmed and tortured him. He finished by believing the 
drowned man's teeth had inserted there some animal which 
was devouring him. The portion of neck bearing the scar no 
longer seemed to belong to his body ; it seemed a strange 
bit of flesh which had been fastened there, like some 
poisoned meat which was rotting his muscles. He thus 
for ever carried about with him the living, devouring 
memory of his crime. Therese, whenever he was beating 
her, sought to scratch him at that place ; she sometimes 
dug her nails into the spot and made him howl with pain. 
Ordinarily, she pretended to weep so soon as she saw the 


bite, in order to make it more intolerable to Laurent. All 
the revenge she took for his brutality, was to torture him 
by means of this bite. 

He had often been tempted, when shaving, to cut his 
neck, and thus obliterate the marks of the drowned man's 
teeth. Standing before the looking-glass, when he raised 
his chin and perceived the red scar under the white lather 
of soap, he grew furious, and snatched up the razor to hack 
at the flesh. But the touch of the cold blade against his 
skin always recalled him to himself ; he turned faint, he was 
forced to sit down, and to wait until his quieted cowardice 
permitted him to finish shaving. 

In the evening, he only emerged from his torpor to burst 
into blind and puerile anger. When tired of quarrelling 
with Therese and beating her, he vented his fury like a child 
by kicking the walls, he sought something to smash. That 
consoled him. He nursed an special hatred far the tabby 
cat, Francois, who, the moment he appeared, took refuge on 
the paralytic's knees. If Laurent had not yet killed him, 
it was because he was literally afraid to seize hold of him. 
The cat glared at him with great round eyes, of fiendish 
fixity. It was these eyes, always turned on him, which ex- 
asperated the young man ; he asked himself what was written 
in those eyes which never left him ; he ended by having 
regular frights, imagining the most absurd things. When 
sitting at table, at no matter what moment, in a long inter- 
val of silence, or in the heat of an argument, if he turned 
round suddenly and found Francois examining him with a 
heavy, implacable gaze, he turned pale, grew restless, and 
was nearly shouting to the cat : " Speak out, and tell me 
what you want with me." He seized, with frightened joy, 
every opportunity of squeezing Francois's tail or one of his 
paws, and then the poor animal's mewing filled him with 
vague terror, as though he had heard the cry of pain of a 


p. 237. 


human being. Laurent was literally afraid of Frangois. 
Especially since the latter had taken to living on the stricken 
woman's knees, as in the heart of an impregnable fortress, 
from which he could, with impunity, rivet his green eyes on 
his enemy. Camille's murderer traced a vast resemblance 
between this angry beast and the paralytic. He felt sure 
the cat, as well as Madame Eaquin, was aware of the crime, 
and would denounce it, if ever he gained the power of 

At last, one evening, Frangois glared so stolidly at Lau- 
rent, that the latter, irritated beyond measure, resolved to 
put an end to it. He opened wide the dining-room window, 
and caught up the cat by the skin of the neck. Madame 
Eaquin understood ; two large tears rolled down her cheeks. 
The cat began to swear, to struggle, trying to turn and bite 
Laurent's hand. But the latter stuck to him; he swung 
him round two or three times, and then flung him with the 
full force of his arm against the great, black wall opposite. 
Frangois was crushed nearly flat, his back broken, and he 
fell on the glass roof of the Passage. All the night through 
were heard the dying moans of the miserable beast, as he 
tried to drag himself along the gutter, with his broken spine. 
Madame Raquin mourned that night for Frangois almost as 
much as she had wept for Camille ; Therese had a violent 
fit of hysterics. The cat's cries of pain were frightful in the 
darkness, under the windows. 

Laurent had ere long a fresh source of anxiety, tie was 
alarmed at certain changes in his wife's demeanour. 

Therfese became gloomy, taciturn. She no longer over- 
whelmed Madame Raquin with avowals of repentance, with 
kisses of gratitude. She resumed towards the paralytic her 
cold cruel manner, her selfish indifference. It seemed as 
though she had tried remorse, and not finding in it the con- 
solation she sought, she had turned to another remedy. 


tier sadness was doubtless the result of her vain search for 
peace. She now contemplated the impotent woman, with a 
sort of disdain, as a useless thing which could no longer even 
serve as a consolation. She grudgingly provided her with 
the bare necessaries which would keep her from starving. 
From this moment she became silent and dejected, as she 
slowly crawled about the house. She was constantly absent 
from home, sometimes four and five times a week. 

These changes surprised and alarmed Laurent. He sup- 
posed that remorse, taking a fresh shape with The>£se, was 
now causing this gloomy weariness which he noticed in her. 
This worry disquieted him much more than the demonstra- 
tive despair with which she overwhelmed him in earlier 
days. She now said nothing, she no longer quarrelled with 
him, she seemed entirely self-contained. He would have 
preferred her giving vent to her misery sooner than see her 
thus wrapt up in herself. He feared that some day the 
anguish would stifle her, and that to obtain relief she would 
be forced to go and tell all to a priest or a magistrate. 

Therese's numerous flittings then obtained an alarming 
signification in his eyes. He fancied she was seeking a con- 
fidant away from home, and was preparing to betray him. 
Twice he sought to follow her, but lost her in the streets. 
He set himself to watch her again. A fixed idea possessed 
him : Th^rese, unable longer to bear her mental misery, was 
about to reveal everything, and he must be in time to gag 
her, and force the confession down her throat. 



One morning, Laurent, instead of going to his studio, took 
up a position in a wine-shop, which formed one of the corners 
of the Rue Guehegaud, facing the Passage. There he ex- 
amined all the people who emerged on to the pavement of 
the Rue Mazarine. He was watching for Therese. The pre- 
vious day, the young woman had expressed her intention of 
going out early and probably not returning home before 

Laurent waited a good half hour. He knew his wife 
always went by way of the Rue Mazarine ; for a moment, 
however, he feared she had escaped him by taking the Rue 
de Seine. He had an idea of going back to the Passage and 
hiding in the alley of the house itself. As he was growing 
impatient, he saw Therese walk quickly out of the Passage. 
She was arrayed in bright colours, and, for the first time, he 
noticed she was dressed like a fast woman, with a long train ; 
she traipsed along the pavement, alluringly looking at the 
men, holding her skirt up in front with her hand, high 
enough to display all the front of her legs, her laced boots 
and her white stockings. She went up the Rue Mazarine. 
Laurent followed her. 

The weather was warm, the young woman walked slowly, 
her head raised, her hair hanging down her back. The men 
who had stared her in the face turned round to look after 
her. She turned down the Rue de l'^3cole-de-M^decine. 
Laurent was terrified ; he knew there was a police-station 
somewhere in the vicinity ; he told himself that he oould no 


longer doubt that his wife was going to give him up to jus- 
tice. He made up his mind to spring upon her, if she crossed 
the threshold of the police office, to entreat her or beat her 
and force her to silence. At a street corner, she looked at 
a constable who was passing, and he trembled for fear she 
should speak to him ; he hid in a doorway, seized with a 
sudden fear of immediate arrest, if he showed himself. This 
walk was a real agony for him ; while his wife was showing 
herself off in the sunshine, her skirts sweeping the pavement, 
careless and bold, he was following behind her, pale and 
trembling, feeling all was over, that he could never escape, 
and that he would be guillotined. Every fresh step she 
took seemed to him a step nearer to his doom. Fear gave 
him a sort of blind conviction, the young woman's slightest 
movement added to his certainty. He followed her, he went 
where she went, as one goes to punishment. 

Suddenly, on turning into the old Place Saint-Michael, 
Therese went towards a cafe which was then at the corner 
of the Eue Monsieur-le-Prince. She sat down among a group 
of women and students, at one of the tables out on the 
pavement. She shook hands familiarly with all these people. 
Then she ordered a glass of absinthe. 

She seemed quite at her ease. She chatted with a fair 
young man, who had evidently been waiting for her there 
some time. Two girls came leaning over the table where 
she was seated, and addressed her familiarly with their 
hoarse voices. Women were smoking cigarettes close to 
her, men were kissing the women openly, before the passers- 
by, who did not take the least notice. Coarse jests, rude 
laughter were heard by Laurent, who had remained motion- 
less on the opposite side of the Place under a gateway. 

When Therese had finished her absinthe, she rose up, 
took the fair young man's arm, and went down the Rue 
de la Harpe. Laurent followed them as far as the Eue 


SAINT-MICHEL. p. 840. 


Saint-Andr^-des-Arts. There be saw them enter a furnished 
lodging-house. He stood in the middle of the road, looking 
up at the front of the house. His wife appeared for a 
moment at an open window on the second floor. Then he 
fancied he could see the fair young man's arms creeping 
round Therese's waist. The window closed with a bang. 

Laurent understood. Without waiting longer, he quietly 
turned back, reassured, happy. 

" Bah ! " he said to himself, walking towards the quays, 
"that's better. She has an occupation now, she is not 
meditating mischief. She's a devilish sight sharper than 
I am." 

What surprised him was that the idea of seeking consola- 
tion in vice had not first come to himself. He might have 
found in it a cure for his fears. It had not occurred to 
him because his flesh was numbed, and he no longer felt 
the slightest desire for debauchery. His wife's infidelity 
left him perfectly calm. He felt no revolt of blood or 
nerves at the thought that she was in the arms of another. 
On the contrary, it amused him ; he felt as if he had been 
following some friend's wife, and he laughed at the trick 
this wife was playing her husband. ThereBe had become 
alienated from him to such a point that he no longer felt 
her living in his breast, and he would have sold and 
delivered her a hundred times for one hour's peace of mind. 

He strolled along, revelling in the sudden and happy 
reaction which had changed his terror into peace. He 
could have thanked his wife for seeking a lover, when he 
thought her in quest of a commissary of police. This 
adventure had an unexpected issue which gave him a 
pleasant surprise. The clearest thing he saw in all this was 
that he had been wrong to tremble, and that he ought also 
to try if vice would do him any good by drowning his 
gloomy thoughts. 


The same evening, Laurent, on his way back to the shop, 
decided that he would demand a few thousand francs from 
his wife, and use the necessary pressure to get them. He 
thought how much vice costs a man, he vaguely envied girls 
who can sell themselves. He waited patiently for Therese, 
who had not yet come in. When she arrived he dissembled, 
saying not a word of the morning's discovery. She was not 
quite sober. From her disarranged garments came that 
mixed odour of stale tobacco and liquor which pervades 
smoking-rooms. Tired out, her face streaked with livid 
blotches, she staggered, drowsy from the shameful fatigue 
of the day. 

The dinner was a silent one. Therese could not eat. At 
dessert, Laurent planted his elbows on the table, and de- 
liberately asked her for five thousand francs. 

" No," she answered, curtly. " If I let you have your 
way, you would bring us to penury. Don't you know our 
position 1 We're going straight to ruin." 

"That may be," replied he, coolly, "I don't care, I must 
have some money." 

"No, a thousand times no ! You gave up your appoint- 
ment, the shop is bringing in nothing, and we can't live on 
the interest of my dowry. Every day I have to encroach 
upon the capital to maintain you, and give you the hundred 
francs a month you forced from me. You sha'n't have a 
sou more — do you hear 1 It's no use." 

" Think it over, don't refuse like that. I tell you I want 
five thousand francs, and I mean to have them. You will 
give me them all the same." 

This cool obstinacy irritated Therese, and completed her 

" Ah, I know ! " she cried. " You wish to end as you 
began. It's four years now that we've maintained you. 
You only came among us for what you could get, to eat and 


drink; and, ever since, you have been living upon us. 
You're a gentleman who does nothing — a gentleman who's 
arranged so as to live at my expense, with his arms folded. 
No, you shall have nothing, not a sou. Shall I tell you ? 
Well, then, you're a — " 

And she said the word. Laurent burst out laughing, and 
shrugged his shoulders. He merely replied : 

" You learn elegant words in the company you now 

This was the only allusion he made to Therese's amours. 
She raised her head sharply, and said in a sour tone of 
voice : 

" At any rate, J don't frequent the society of murderers." 

Laurent turned very pale. He kept silent for a moment, 
his eyes fixed on his wife ; then, in a trembling voice : 

" Listen to me, my girl," he resumed, " don't let us 
quarrel ; it will do- neither of us any good. I'm at the end 
of my courage. It will be as well for us to understand each 
other, if we would avoid worse consequences. I've asked 
you for five thousand francs because I want them. I may 
even tell you that I intend to employ them in ensuring our 

He smiled strangely, and went on : 

' Come, think it over, give me your last word." 

" I've already thought it over," answered the young 
woman. " I've given you my last word, you sha'n't have a 

Her husband jumped up savagely. She feared he was 
going to beat her ; she shrank into herself, resolved not to 
yield beneath the blows. But Laurent did not even ap- 
proach her, he contented himself with coldly announcing 
that he was tired of life, and that he was going to confess 
the murder to the nearest commissary of police. 

" You drive me to extremities," he said, " you make my life 


unbearable. I prefer to end it. We shall be tried and con- 
demned together. That's all." 

" Do you think you alarm me ? " cried his wife. " I'm as 
tired of life as you are. If you don't go to the commissary 
of police I will. Oh ! yes, I'm ready to follow you to the 
scaffold, I'm not a coward like you. Come along with me to 
the commissary's." 

She had risen, and was already on her way to the stair- 

"All right," faltered Laurent, " let's go together." 

When they had reached the shop, they looked at one 
another, anxious and alarmed. They felt as though they 
had just been nailed to the spot. The few seconds that had 
elapsed while they came downstairs had sufficed to show 
them, in a flash of reason, the consequences of a confession. 
They saw rapidly and clearly, and all together, the police, 
the prison, the assize court, and the guillotine. And, in the 
innermost recesses of their beings, they felt misgivings, they 
were tempted to fall on their knees, and entreat each other 
to stop, to reveal nothing. Fear and embarrassment held 
them two or three minutes, silent and motionless. Therese 
was the first to pluck up courage, to speak and to yield. 

" After all," she said, " I'm very stupid to refuse you this 
money. You're sure to spend it for me, sooner or later. I 
may as well let you have it at once." 

She did not seek to disguise her defeat. She sat down at 
the counter, and wrote out a cheque for five thousand francs, 
which Laurent could cash at a bank. No further mention 
was made of the commissary that evening. 

As soon as Laurent had the gold in his pocket, he took to 
drink and women, and led a noisy dissipated life. He 
stayed out till morning, slept all day, went about at night, 
tried to excite himself, and to escape reality. But he only 
succeeded in sinking lower still. When revelry was loud 


around him, he heard the terrible silence within ; when a 
mistress kissed him, when emptying his glass, he only found 
at the end of his debauchery, a heavy weight of sadness. 
He was no longer adapted for a lewd and gluttonous life ; 
his frozen frame, rigid so to say internally, grew weary of 
kisses and intoxication. Surfeited beforehand, he could not 
succeed in heating his imagination, or exciting his senses or 
his appetites. He suffered a little more from making the 
effort, and that was the only result. Then when he re- 
turned home and saw Madame Raquin and Therese, his 
fatigue made him the prey of frightful fits of terror; he 
would then take an oath to stay at home, and endure his 
suffering in order to get used to it and subdue it. 

Therese now went less and less from home. Eor a month 
she lived, like Laurent, on the streets, in the caKs. She 
would come in for a few minutes, towards evening, attend 
to Madame Eaquin's wants, put her to bed, and sally forth 
again until the following morning. On one occasion she and 
her husband were four days without seeing each other. 
Then followed a deep disgust ; she felt that vice was not 
more successful than the comedy of remorse. She had in 
vain visited all the low haunts in the Quartier Latin, she 
had in vain led a noisy, dissolute life. Her nerve was gone ; 
debauchery, animal pleasures no longer affected her suffi- 
ciently to chase away memory. She was like one of those 
drunkards, whose scorched palate remains numbed beneath 
the fire of the most burning stimulants. She was inert in 
her lewdness ; when in company of her lovers she only felt 
bored and weary. So she gave them up, telling herself they 
were useless to her. Then followed a despairing idleness 
which kept her in the house, unwashed, unkempt, ill dressed. 
She neglected. her person in every way. 

When the two murderers found themselves thus face to 
face, wearied out, having exhausted every means of trying 


to escape from each other, they understood that they had 
no more power of resistance. Dissipation would have no 
more to do with them, and had sent them back to their 
sufferings. They were once more in the dark, damp house 
in the Passage, they were as though immurred there for 
evermore, for they had often tried to be free, but never had 
they succeeded in loosing the bonds of blood which bound 
them. They no longer thought of attempting the impossible 
task. They were conscious of being so driven, crushed, 
riveted together by fate that all further struggle would be 
ridiculous. They resumed their existence in common, but 
their hatred developed into fury. 

The evening quarrels recommenced. Moreover, the shouts 
and blows went on all day. To hatred was now added 
mistrust, and the mistrust finished driving them mad. 

They feared each other. The scene caused by the demand 
for five thousand francs was soon repeated morning and 
evening. Their fixed idea was that each would give the 
other up to justice. They could think of nothing else. 
When one of them said a word, or made a movement, the 
other had visions of a visit to the commissary of police. 
Then they fought or implored each other. In their anger 
they shouted they were going to reveal everything, they 
nearly drove one another mad with fright; then they 
trembled, they humbled themselves, they promised, with 
bitter tears, to keep silence. They suffered horribly, but 
they lacked the courage to heal the wound by searing it 
with a red-hot iron. If they held this threat of confession 
over each other's head, it was simply as a mutual weapon of 
self-defence, for they never would have had strength to 
speak the word which would have purchased peace with 

More than twenty times they went to the very door of 
the police-station, one behind the other. First it was 

THtfRfiSE RAQUIN. 247 

Murent who would confess the murder, then it was Therese 
who ran to give herself up. And they always joined each 
other in the street, deciding to wait a little longer, after 
exchanging recriminations and ardent entreaties. 

Every fresh outburst left them more fierce and more 

They watched each other from morning to night. Laurent 
was for ever in the house in the Passage, and Therese never 
let him out of her sight. Their suspicions, their dread of 
mutual treachery, brought them more together, united them 
in an atrocious intimacy. Never since their marriage had 
they lived so closely attached to each other, and never had 
they endured such torture. Notwithstanding the agony 
they caused themselves, they never lost sight one of the 
other ; they preferred to endure the most poignant suffer-, 
ings rather than be separated for an hour. If Therese went 
down into the shop, Laurent followed, for fear of her 
chatting to a customer ; if Laurent stood at the door, 
looking at the people passing along the Passage, Therese 
came and stood by him, to see that he spoke to no one. On 
the Thursday evenings, when their guests were assembled, 
the murderers gazed supplicatingly at each other ; each 
listened to the other with terror, fearing some sudden 
avowal, giving a dangerously compromising meaning to half- 
spoken sentences. 

Such a hostile attitude could not be longer maintained. 
Therese and Laurent simultaneously arrived at the determina- 
tion to escape the consequences of their first crime by 
committing a second. It was indispensable that one disap- 
peared for the other to taste a moment's repose. This 
thought came at the same time to each ; both felt the 
pressing necessity of a separation, both wished the separa- 
tion to be eternal. The murder they contemplated seemed 
to them natural, fated, forcibly resulting from Camille's 


murder. They did not even discuss it, they accepted the 
project as the only means of safety. Laurent resolved to 
kill Therese, because Therese was in his way, because she 
could betray him with a word; and because she caused him 
unbearable torments ; Therese resolved to kill Laurent for 
the same, reasons. 

The resolve to murder once fixed calmed them a little. 
They made their arrangements. It is true they acted 
feverishly, without .much prudence - they thought very 
vaguely of the probable consequences of a murder committed 
without ensuring flight and impunity. They felt an in- 
vincible necessity for killing each other, they obeyed this 
necessity like wild beasts. They would not have given 
themselves up for their first crime, which they had concealed 
so cleverly, yet they risked the guillotine in committing a 
second, which they did not even seek to hide. They did 
not even see this inconsistency in their conduct. They 
simply settled that if they succeeded in escaping, they would 
go and live abroad, after carrying off all the money. 
Therese had, some fifteen or twenty days previously, with- 
drawn the few thousand francs temaining of her dowry, and 
kept the cash in a drawer, which Laurent knew of. They 
did not for an instant trouble their heads as to what would 
become ot Madame Eaquin. 

Laurent had met, some few weeks before, one of his old 
college mates, who was then studying with a celebrated 
chemist who took a great interest in toxicology. This com- 
rade had taken him &> the laboratory where he worked, 
showing him the utensils, naming the drugs. One evening, 
when he had decided on the murder, Laurent, as he saw 
Therese drinking a glass of sugar and water, remembered 
having noticed in the laboratory a little stone phial, contain- 
ing prussic acid. Calling to mind what his friend had told 
him of the terrible effects of this poison, which destroys life 


and leaves little trace, he thought it was just the sort of 
poison he wanted. The following day he succeeded in 
escaping ; he paid a visit to his friend, and while his back 
was turned, he stole the little stone phial. 

The same day Therese took advantage of Laurent's 
absence to have ground a large cook's knife which had been 
used for cutting loaf sugar, and which was all blunt. She 
hid the knife in a corner of the sideboard. 



The following Thursday, the Raquins' party, as the guests 
alway's called it, was more than usually gay. It lasted 
until half-past eleven. Grivet, on leaving, said he had never 
passed a more agreeable evening. 

Suzanne, who was in the family way, talked incessantly 
to The>ese of her pains aud her hopes. Therese seemed to 
listen with great interest ; her eyes fixed, her lips tightly 
closed, she bent her head from time to time ; her lowered 
lashes seemed to cast a shadow over her face. Laurent, on his 
side, paid a sustained attention to the twaddle of old Mi- 
chaud Olivier. These gentlemen never ceased, and Grivet 
could scarce get a word in edgeways between the father and 
son. Besides, he felt a certain respect for them ; he admired 
their conversation. On this particular evening, chatting 
having superseded the usual game, he called out naively 
that the police magistrate's stories amused him nearly as 
much as a game of dominoes. 

For the four years that the Michauds and Grivet had 
spent their Thursday evenings at the Raquins', they had not 
once tired of these monotonous gatherings which returned 
with a wearisome regularity. Never had they once sus- 
pected the drama which was enacting in this house, so gentle 
and peaceful when they entered it. Olivier usually remarked 
with a judicial pleasantry, that the dining-room smelt 
honest. Grivet, not to be in the back-ground, had named 


it the Temple of Peace. Two or three times during the latter 
days Therese had explained away the marks of blows which 
discoloured her face by telling their guests that she had 
had a fall. None of them moreover would have dreamt 
these marks were made by Laurent's fist ; they were con- 
vinced that their hosts' was a model household, all love and 

The paralytic had never again attempted to reveal to 
them the infamy concealed behind the dull quietude of the 
Thursday evenings. Feeling, at sight of the murderers' 
sufferings, that a crisis was imminent, hurried on by the fa- 
tal succession of events, she came to the conclusion that the 
sequel would work itself out without her interference. She 
therefore remained passive, waiting for the consequences of 
her son's murder to involve the death of the murderers. She 
merely prayed to Heaven to grant her sufficient life to be 
present at the violent catastrophe impending ; her last wish 
was to feast her eyes on the spectacle of Laurent's and 
Tbirese's death agonies. 

On this evening, Grivet came and sat by her for a long 
time chatting, and, as usual, asking questions and answer- 
ing them. But he could not even succeed in gaining her eye. 
When the clock chimed half-past eleven, the guests rose 

"We are so comfortable here," said Grivet, "that we 
forget to go." 

" The fact is," added Michaud, " I'm never sleepy here, 
though my usual hour is nine o'clock." 

Olivier thought he ought to add his little joke. 

" You see," he said, showing his yellow teeth, " there's 
always an odour of honesty here : that's why one's so much 
at one's ease." 

Grivet, vexed at having been out-done, began to declaim, 
with an emphasising gesture : 


" This room is the Temple of Peace." 

Meanwhile Suzanne was tying her bonnet strings, and 
saying to Therese : 

" I will come to-morrow morning, at nine o'clock." 

" No," replied the young woman hurriedly, " don't come 
before the afternoon. I shall probably be out in the morn- 

She spoke with a strange, troubled voice. She accom- 
panied the guests to the Passage. Laurent went down also, 
holding the lamp. When they were alone, the husband and 
wife both heaved a sigh of relief ; a blind impatience must 
have been devouring them all the evening. Since the pre- 
ceding day, they had been more gloomy and uneasy when 
together. They avoided each other's gaze, and went up 
silently. Their hands trembled convulsively, and Laurent 
was obliged to place the lamp on the table, for fear of 
dropping it. 

Before putting Madame Kaquin to bed, they generally 
tidied the dining-room, and prepared some sugar and water 
for the night, thus hovering about the paralytic till all was 

When they had come upstairs, on this occasion, they 
seated themselves for a moment, with pale lips and uncer- 
tain glance. After a short silence, Laurent asked as if wak- 
ing from a reverie : 

" Well ! aren't we going to bed ? " 

" Yes, yes, we're going to bed," replied Therese, shivering, 
as if she felt bitter cold. 

She rose and took the water-bottle. 

" Never mind that," called her husband, with a voice 
which he strove to make natural, " I will prepare the sugar 
and water. You can attend to your aunt." 

He took the bottle from his wife's hands, and filled a glass 
with water ; then, turning half round, he emptied the little 



' ■ WII T| 


»111* l:|j|t'.'| I ■■lill .:I|.i,iWf\j 




p. 253. 


stone phial into the glass, at the same time adding a lump 
of sugar. 

Meanwhile, Therese was squatting down at the side- 
board ; she had taken the large cook's knife from its hiding 
place, and was trying to conceal it in one of the large 
pockets, hanging from her waist-band. 

At this moment, that strange sensation which warns of 
approaching danger made the husband and wife turn their 
heads instinctively. They looked at each other. Therese 
saw the phial in Laurent's hand, and Laurent saw the flash 
of the steel knife in the folds of Therese's skirt. They 
examined each other thus for some seconds, cold and silent, 
the husband near the table, the wife bending before the 
sideboard. They understood. Each remained petrified at 
finding the same thought in the other. Mutually reading 
their secret design in their disturbed looks, they were over- 
whelmed with pity and horror. 

Madame Kaquin, feeling the crisis at hand, fixed upon 
them a piercing and steady gaze. 

Therese and Laurent suddenly broke into sobs. Wrought 
up to the highest pitch of agony, they threw themselves 
into each other's arms, weak as children. Some lingering 
spark of softness and tenderness seemed to wake up in their 
breast. They wept silently, thinking of the shameless life 
they had led; and would go on leading, if they were 
cowards enough to live. Then, at the remembrance of the 
past, they felt so weary and disgusted with themselves, that 
they had an immense craving for rest, for annihilation. 
They exchanged a last look, a look of gratitude, for the 
knife and the glass of poison. Therese took the glass, 
drank half the contents and handed it to Laurent who 
finished it in one draught. The effects were like lightning. 
They fell down, one on the other, annihilated, finding at 
last consolation in death. The wife's mouth fell on her 


husband's neck, and rested on the scar left by Camille's 

The corpses remained all night on the dining-room floor 
twisted, sprawling, lighted by yellow rays which the shade 
of the lamp shed upon them. And for nearly twelve hours, 
until near noon the following day, Madame Eaquin, silent and 
^motionless, watched them at her feet, unable to satisfy her 
eyes, crushing them beneath her heavy gaze. 



p. 254. 


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